Says the Atheist “More information” Says the Theist “I Surrender”

The atheist will often assert, “I don’t have enough information. I need more and better evidence before I can believe in God.” But what the Bible so clearly teaches is that our biggest problem is not a “to know” problem. Our biggest problem is that we want independence, total freedom from any deity, even if that deity loves us.

Singer/songwriter Randy Stonehill in the late 70’s, early 80’s, portrayed rebellion as a marionette who, hoping to be free, cuts its own strings. The song is “Puppet Strings.” We all know that such action doesn’t result in freedom – rather it leaves just a pile on the floor. Like the marionettes who reach up and cut the strings that enable and direct them, we lay crumpled and broken on the stage of life. No, God doesn’t manipulate our every move. That’s not Stonehills point. His point is that we cut ourselves off from the One who gives life meaning, value, and hope, thinking that independence from Him is true freedom. (Randy Rowland talks about his in his book, Sins We Love)

Rebellion is like that. Rebellion doesn’t want to be dependent on anyone, be superior to everyone, and accountable to no one. Believing that we are unloved, that there is no larger story, that life is a bunch of random events strewn together, we refuse to engage a rationalistic life in an atheistic system. Nothing can truly be understood; nothing really matters in the end. All human activity is about a quest for power over others, we believe. Conceding these points, we then free ourselves of any responsibility to do something with our lives. Since life doesn’t really matter and God doesn’t really seem to care, I’ll light a joint, or pour a shot of whiskey, or go have a fling, or sleep away my life, or make myself dizzy on video games – whatever it takes to escape all the meaninglessness that I feel. We cut the strings.

“We are all foolish puppets who are desiring to be kings; now lie bended, fully crippled after cutting all our strings.” In verse three of Puppet Strings, Stonehill sings “But God said I’ll forgive you; I will face you man-to-man and win your love again. O how could there be possibly a greater gift of love than dying for a friend.”

The theist is one who surrenders to love. “I surrender.”

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45 Comments

Filed under Atheism, Christian Worldview, Free Will, Rebellion, Theism, Worldview

45 responses to “Says the Atheist “More information” Says the Theist “I Surrender”

  1. Joey you say, The atheist will often assert, “I don’t have enough information. I need more and better evidence before I can believe in God.” But what the Bible so clearly teaches is that our biggest problem is not a “to know” problem. Our biggest problem is that we want independence, total freedom from any deity, even if that deity loves us.

    I don’t think you have met many atheists? There is no “the atheist.” Atheists are just non-believers in supernatural beings. There is no information that you could provide me with, or Bible verse, that would suddenly make my world full of magic and supernatural beings. It isn’t just your Christian god that we don’t believe in, but all of the magical beings that people believe are out there, that we reject.

    You too are an atheist when it comes to the thousands of other gods that people believe exist.

  2. I do understand what you are saying. i have no problem with skepticism and doubt.

    Your comment does in fact explain some of what i’ve encountered with others who claim to be an atheist. But i have a couple of issues.

    one, when you say there is no God, you do so in the face of an avalanche of evidence to the contrary. this assertion walls off vast areas of inquiry and discovery.

    Two, when you say there is no God, you subscribe to a worldview. This worldview is bankrupt when answering the deeper questions of life.

    See, atheists don’t have a “to know” problem. its not that they can’t; it’s that they won’t. And we’re talking about something here far more important than just a ‘magical being’.

    Theism asserts that a personal God has broken into our world; that He has revealed Himself; that we live on a ‘visited planet’ , a just right world that knew we were coming, such precision.

    To decide that there is no God, in spite of the evidence is to make the data fit the worldview rather than shaping the worldview from the data.

    Why? Well, the atheist i have found plays this elaborate hide-n-seek game with God. many pretend to be on the search; pretend to be happy; pretend that its ok not to have answers to life’s deeper questions. this is done for a several reasons. And at the core of who we are, we are puppets who have decided to ‘cut the strings’ – i don’t need God.

    There is more, but these are issues i have.

  3. Hi, You ask, one, when you say there is no God, you do so in the face of an avalanche of evidence to the contrary. this assertion walls off vast areas of inquiry and discovery.

    Read what I said above please… I did not say there is no gods. I said I don’t believe in gods. There is a difference. I don’t believe in gods, or psychics, or extra terrestrials.

    However, I will bite. What is the “avalanche of evidence” that there are gods? But leave out the Bible in your evidence. The Bible isn’t evidence of any god’s being or not being. It is a book full of stories.

    You assert,Two, when you say there is no God, you subscribe to a worldview. This worldview is bankrupt when answering the deeper questions of life.

    I don’t say there is no god. I say that I don’t believe in any gods. Non-belief isn’t a worldview, a philosophy, or a religion. Just like you probably on believe in the god of your religion, but don’t believe in Allah or Vishnu, or Zeus, and they never occur to you. Well, Im like that about your god also. Im and a non-believer in all gods. You are a believer in the god of the Bible.

    I must assert that saying that my non-belief is bankrupt when answering life’s bigger questions, I can assure you that I am perfectly comfortable in not ascribing supernatural beings to the cause of anything that has ever happened… or will happen.

  4. i sense contradiction. the fact that you believe or don’t believe is beside the point. there is evidence to prove the existence of God. God does not need our belief in order to substantiate that he exists.

    And if he exists, has he spoken? and if he has spoken, what has he revealed about himself?

    In theism, we have a creative word (look at nature), a written word (the Bible, which you deny), and the living word (Christ is confirmed in history).

    So God exists. He has self-disclosed. What can i learn about him? And how can i know that he exists without a bible.

    Three ways (I’ve shared these before elsewhere):

    Conscience. He’s written it into our world and into your conscience and self-awareness. There’s a voice inside the center of your soul that says it’s not morally right to push a little lady into the path of oncoming traffic, but to help her across the street instead (Romans 2:14-15 if you care to). If there is no God and everyone just evolved from animals, why would it be wrong to give her a shove? Biological machines don’t have conscience – made in the image of God people do. No one had to teach you this. You just know injustice when you see it; you’re self-aware and introspective. You have a sense of justice, right and wrong.

    Desire. And there’s a voice inside that says I am designed for something more than just an overbuilt “banana-picker” (please excuse my phrase, but true to post-modern idealogy, it works for me) Over-built banana pickers don’t paint sunsets and capture the colors of an arboretum. The incandescent colors of sea life. The golden daybreak. The mountain vistas and glistening lakes. The human body with complex organs and eyeballs, and skin. The cellular information found in a single cell. Human beings who have personality and the capacity to recognize, write about, and photograph scenes of beauty argue against the Banana-Picker theories. Banana-Pickers don’t write stories about courage and hope and purpose and romance; all they need is grass and bananas. They don’t long for home and family. They don’t appreciate the arts and sciences. They don’t hunger for love and lose themselves in music. They just eat bananas. Someone gave you an ability to create, shape, and appreciate beauty and to long for purpose and home. We pay attention to what’s going on inside us. We seek to piece together all that happens into some larger picture of meaning. “Would it not be strange if a universe without purpose accidentally created humans who are so obsessed with purpose? (John Templeton)” All we needed was basic “banana-pickers” but what we have is Steven Spielberg, etc., etc.

    Nature. If you will listen to the inner voice and read the Book of Nature, God has already convinced you of his existence; what we see and feel is not mere chance. The science of common sense says that it couldn’t just have happened. Chance doesn’t adequately explain it. Laws don’t adequately explain it. Design does. And there’s a message of love embedded in the design.

    And thats how we know there is a God without using a Bible.

    G. K. Chesterton said that when people cease to believe in God, it is commonly supposed that they believe in nothing. But it actually is far worse than this, asserts Chesterton. “They believe in anything.”

  5. You say,And thats how we know there is a God without using a Bible.

    Do you really believe that there is one person on the planet who believes in your Christian god who has not be taught? One person, who started believing in Jesus, who wasn’t proselytized?

    Conscience, Desire, and Nature in no way prove that the Biblical god… or any god for that matter exists. Your musings are romantic Joey. There is no Book of Nature to read. Nor is there an “inner voice that says I was designed for something more than ‘banana picker.'” And a man doesn’t have to have a god to have a sense of justice. How about Socrates, Heraclitus, Aristotle, Homer?

    You point out that G. K. Chesterton said that when people cease to believe in God, it is commonly supposed that they believe in nothing. But it actually is far worse than this, asserts Chesterton. “They believe in anything.”

    Well that really isn’t true. Wendy Kaminer in her fine book Sleeping with Extra Terrestrials makes the point that people who believe in gods, any gods are much more likely to believe in psychic powers, or astrology, or extra terrestrials than non god believers.

  6. Did any of those guys rise from the dead?

  7. The Tofu

    Joey, in every post on this blog you demonstrate a complete lack of understanding of both science and atheism. Please stop pretending to know someone’s position before you even ask what it is.

  8. hey tofu…where did you go?

    anyway… i believe all of this makes sense… give it a hearing…that’s all i ask… all posts tie into a larger worldview…something that seems very precious these days…

  9. Your arguments seem to have faded to romantic and dreamy musings Joey. What can you possibly mean when you speak of a “precious larger worldview?”

    Let me ask you this, is it impossible for you to imagine that there are good and honest citizens who hold no thoughts about invisible beings?

  10. The Tofu

    What do you mean, where did I go? You haven’t responded to me on the other thread yet.

  11. What other thread?

    And also, I’m not pretending to know the views of all atheists. What I’m doing is providing for people proposed answers for life’s deeper questions. I also know something about the human condition that atheists seem totally oblivious too. Something is wrong with the human condition. We are in rebellion. All the “de-conversion” people will deny this; atheist will deny this; humanist will deny this. But it is absolutely true. The line dividing good and evil goes straight through the human heart. This I know for sure. I also know my own heart. And every attempt at building “utopia” has failed. We are messed up people who will thumb our noses at the One who breathed His life into us.

    It’s not a “to know” problem; it’s a moral problem. Sure, there’s a measure of goodness that even the darkest human being can show. But it’s only a goodness by human standards; not a goodness by God’s standards. that’s why the world needed a Savior, One who was truly good.

    When one who has known no treachery, gives his life in behalf of another, then death itself must turn backwards. That’s the Gospel. And it’s all about love…true love…

  12. J. J. Ramsey

    joeynelson: “It’s not a ‘to know’ problem; it’s a moral problem.”

    Yet look at your reasons for saying that we all really know that there is a God:

    * Conscience. You claim that God is necessary for us to have a sense of right and wrong, yet you haven’t even come close to justifying this claim, nor have you dealt with the fact that natural selection can favor cooperation as well as competition.

    * Desire. Come on, the obvious response is that this is the wishful thinking fallacy.

    * Nature. Basically, this is the argument to design, which can only be maintained by grossly misrepresenting evolution.

    You haven’t come close to establishing that it’s not a “to know” problem, and your fallacious justifications indeed suggest otherwise.

  13. Some things are intuitive to us, i.e., we don’t have to be taught -we just know. Naturalistic processes don’t produce this “knowing.” We are self-aware.

    What other living creature in nature blushes? Do whales blush? Do dogs blush? Do parakeets blush? No. We on the other hand, do blush. We are self-aware, created in God’s image human beings. If there is no God as you suggest, then we wouldn’t even be talking about it. It would be irrelevant. The fact that you are having this discussion with me reveals something about your own conscience and inner world or belief.

    In every movie you watch, there is always the theme of justice that pops up? Why? Because we know that something is terribly wrong in our story. That this world is not a just place. Who might I ask can satisfy this sense and need for justice globally if it isn’t God?

    Finally, evolution is a weak attempt to make an atheist intellectually satisfied. Don’t waste your time. Listen to what nature is telling you. Look at the DNA of a cell and tell me that evolution produced encyclopedic volumes of information in a single cell (Darwin didn’t have access to this – if he would have, you wouldn’t have heard about evolution – at least, not from him).

    Yes, it’s not a “to know” problem. It’s not that we can’t believe in God; it’s simply that won’t. No matter how much I convince you, you will not receive it. Arguments are never enough.

    this is where science can hinder. Can the scientific method explain love? Can the scientific method explain listening to music?

    Not even close. So then, remember, in your investigation don’t miss the love story. Love…true love.

  14. The Tofu

    “What other thread?”

    You know, the one where our conversation was taking place? It’s the atheist blogs post.

    “And also, I’m not pretending to know the views of all atheists.”

    You’ve continually told me (and others) that atheism is a worldview, and that atheism necessitates certain beliefs which it doesn’t (that there is no morality, that human life is purposeless). You are arguing against a straw-man position that you’ve tried to pigeonhole all atheists into.

    So yes, you are pretending to know the views of all atheists, and saying otherwise is a downright lie.

    “It’s not a “to know” problem; it’s a moral problem. Sure, there’s a measure of goodness that even the darkest human being can show. But it’s only a goodness by human standards; not a goodness by God’s standards.”

    J.J. Ramsey does a pretty good job of showing why it’s a “to know” problem, so I’m going to address the morality thing (AGAIN).

    Just because you find your religion to be morally useful does not make it true. I could invent a religion that answered all your “deeper questions of life” but that wouldn’t mean my religion would have any validity.

    For example, believing in the invisible flying spaghetti monster provides a framework for moral behaviour, explains the origins of man, establishes that the good will be rewarded in the afterlife and so on and so forth. It’s also totally untrue, and anyone who seriously believes in it is deluded.

    “this is where science can hinder. Can the scientific method explain love? Can the scientific method explain listening to music?”

    Love is a physical reaction to outside stimuli. When you see someone you love, your body (including your brain) react in a certain way- you may feel your heart beating faster for example. This doesn’t make love any less meaningful or powerful, it just means it wasn’t arbitrarily handed down to us by some greater being.

    As for music, I suggest you read the book “This is Your Brain on Music”- it’s pretty fascinating. Basically, our brain is really excellent at detecting patterns, and music is essentially just different kinds of sound patterns. For this reason we find music to be stimulating.

    If you think about it, each note in a piece of music is either fulfilling or betraying our expectation of a musical pattern. A note that fulfills our expectation is pleasing, because we like our expectations to be confirmed- too much of this is boring and predictable though. On the other hand, an unexpected note can cause our brain to reevaluate the pattern, or can give us a jolt of adrenaline or a mental shock- too much of this is simply disorienting, but keeps things interesting.

    Music is a good example of how I find a physical, secular explanation of something infinitely more interesting and satisfying than simply saying “god did it.”

  15. Tofu…I love your logic. But use the scientific method to tell your girlfriend that you love her and see what happens.

  16. The Tofu

    Not really seeing your point here. What’s your argument?

  17. J. J. Ramsey

    Some things are intuitive to us, i.e., we don’t have to be taught -we just know. Naturalistic processes don’t produce this “knowing.”

    Says who? You keep repeating your incredulity at how naturalistic processes can produce moral intuitions, but never argue the point.

    What other living creature in nature blushes? Do whales blush? Do dogs blush?

    I gather you are talking about feeling shame or embarrassment, rather than the literal process of blood rushing to the face. If that is the case, you might want to rethink the question about dogs blushing.

    The fact that you are having this discussion with me reveals something about your own conscience and inner world or belief.

    Actually, what I’m trying to do is keep your false assertions from going without challenge, and perhaps make you think.

    In every movie you watch, there is always the theme of justice that pops up?

    We’re all in agreement that moral intuitions exist. It’s the source of those intuitions that is at issue.

    Finally, evolution is a weak attempt to make an atheist intellectually satisfied.

    Actually, it is a theory that makes sense of large volumes of evidence.

    Look at the DNA of a cell and tell me that evolution produced encyclopedic volumes of information in a single cell

    This is nothing more than an argument from incredulity. Yes, evolution is counterintuitive. So is the idea that electrons can act like waves. Intuitions are not always correct.

  18. Explain to me then, how cells evolved from “primordial soup” with such intricate structure and design – and “a piece of stardust suspended on a sunbeam” – let’s not insult our intelligence with such things from previous desperate atheists in our attempted explanations.

    Explain to me how the sense of justice could be so embedded in human personality and psyche if the processes that created human life are not even remotely connected to it. Non-living material can’t create this! We aren’t just non-chalantly interested in justice… we demand it. If there is no God, you lose all sense of this. Life becomes absurd, meaningless. Just look at world history. When human beings throw accountablity restraint to the winds, see what happens in that world.

    Explain to me what color love is. Explain to me how one can get lost in music. Explain to me why we capture images of beauty in all forms of art. Explain to me why we crave home so much. Explain why virtually every civilization worships something. Explain why we long for intimacy.

    See, what you are missing is a spiritual dimension of life that is beyond the scientific method. Made for spirituality, we wallow in introspection. Made for justice, we clamor for vengeance Made for relationship, we insist on our own way.

    Why? We have a moral problem. When people will take the most perfect human being to ever live, spike him to a cross, and plead innocence, we know that we are messed up people.

    All these things i mention are echoes of a voice deep within the human soul. Sadly, many refuse to hear it.

    Allow yourself to access what has been repressed. And you’ll hear what I’m telling you.

  19. J. J. Ramsey

    “Explain to me then, how cells evolved from ‘primordial soup’ with such intricate structure”

    Sigh. An argument from incredulity, and Creationist Claim CB010.2.

    “Explain to me how the sense of justice could be so embedded in human personality and psyche if the processes that created human life are not even remotely connected to it.”

    Explain to me how a snowflake can have hexagonal symmetry when the processes that created don’t have it at all. Your question is nonsensical. It’s as if you don’t understand the idea of emergent properties.

    “When human beings throw accountablity restraint to the winds, see what happens in that world.”

    Yes, we already agree on that, as I have pointed out multiple times over! Yet in spite of the survival value of cooperation, especially for creatures that aren’t very good at surviving on their own, you ignore that natural selection can select for this.

    “Explain to me what color love is.”

    Explain to me how a colorless green idea can sleep furiously.

    “But use the scientific method to tell your girlfriend that you love her and see what happens.”

    Again, explain to me how a colorless green idea can sleep furiously. The scientific method is a method of investigation, not rhetoric. It makes no sense to say that one is using the scientific method to tell someone anything.

  20. I don’t think you understand the composition of man. Basic anthropology. We are body and spirit. There are physical laws and there are spiritual laws.

    This isn’t about rhetoric, but what I can’t seem to convince you of is that there are some realities that science cannot measure, dimensions of reality that can’t be charted or graphed.

    Yet, amazingly enough, we have insight into this spiritual world via a factual, historical figure who said “We can’t live by bread alone…” We are more than just biological machines, in other words.

    My case for justice and beauty and desire and conscience and nature will continue to build. That’s what blogging is about. I’m finding that many want to discredit the Bible as a source of truth, but amazingly enough, truth is already written into the very nature of things.

    By the way, there’s a huge difference between a snowflake and a living being… just for the record…

  21. J. J. Ramsey

    “there are some realities that science cannot measure, dimensions of reality that can’t be charted or graphed.”

    Science doesn’t measure. People measure. Science isn’t some mysterious ineffable thing, just a discipline where human beings try to use observation and experiment to help work around confirmation bias and other biases.

    Furthermore, it’s not about charts or graphs, but about evidence. There is plenty of evidence even for things that we normally think of as ineffable, such as human love. It would take a massive kluge to explain it away. We can even talk about evidence that someone loves another: if they continually show affection, if they look out for the other’s interests, and so on.

    “By the way, there’s a huge difference between a snowflake and a living being… just for the record…”

    Oh, of course. However, you were arguing that if the processes that make X don’t have Y, then X can’t have Y. A snowflake is the obvious counterexample.

  22. Do you believe in God? Why or why not?

    You admit that a human and a snowflake are different. Why? What makes them different?

  23. J. J. Ramsey

    “Do you believe in God?”

    No.

    “Why or why not?”

    Because even when the canards of many atheists are taken into account (e.g. “Jebus doesn’t exist,” “bible sez pi = 3”), the Bible still doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. Even when the apologists’ counterarguments are taken into account, there are still errors and contradictions.

    Because confirmation of accounts of miraculous intervention is suspiciously elusive. We have reports that are from friends of friends, stories hundreds of years old, stories from far-off lands, but nothing well-documented.

    Because God has been increasingly unneeded as a explanation for the workings of the world around us, and attempts to show that God is still needed to fill this or that gap have been arguments from incredulity at best and outright dishonest at worst.

    Because attempts at defending theism end up repeating the same doggerels over and over. (In your case, I’ve seen doggerels #5, #31, #45, #51, #142, #152, #156, and #163 on the list of doggerels to which I’ve linked.)

  24. And I have a another “doggerel” for you to think about: you are “labeling and dismissing”.

    In fact, that whole page of doggerels commits the greatest “doggerel” of all: find the best doggerel that fits, label the concept, and dismiss it as irrelevant. Think about what you are doing. Get away from this need to fit everything into a “doggerel.”

    this is not about “doggerels”; its about great ideas and how they play in the arena of worldviews, historical fact, revealed truth, and scientific inquiry. Let’s graduate beyond the need to “doggerelize” everything.

    My sense is that even if you heard the truth about an issue, it would be “labeled” and dismissed.

    Your “well-documentation” claim is far-fetched; of course, the “doggerel” mentality has permitted you to “dismiss” this source of truth.

    That’s what I’m seeing. Anyone who claims there is no God has done so without any evidence to prove themselves right and have furthermore closed the door from investigation that could possibly lead down a theism path.

    I think that there’s a “doggerel” in that somewhere, but I’ll leave that to the doggerel experts to “label.”

  25. J. J. Ramsey

    And I have a another “doggerel” for you to think about: you are “labeling and dismissing”.

    Yes, I am labeling bad arguments and dismissing them because they are bad.

  26. The Tofu

    I count ten usages of the word “doggerel.” Congratulations.

    Please present some actual arguments.

  27. The Tofu

    “Your “well-documentation” claim is far-fetched; of course, the “doggerel” mentality has permitted you to “dismiss” this source of truth.”

    Can you present any examples of well-documented miracles?

    “That’s what I’m seeing. Anyone who claims there is no God has done so without any evidence to prove themselves right and have furthermore closed the door from investigation that could possibly lead down a theism path.”

    Once again, most atheists don’t claim that there is no god. They simply don’t believe in one due to a lack of good evidence.

    Just because we can’t prove something wrong doesn’t mean we should believe in it. The burden of proof is on theists.

  28. So there may be a god then? Does this mean that you are agnostic?

    The greatest miracle of all miracles is the resurrection. Of course, you won’t allow me to use the evidence found in the Bible, so what am I to do?

  29. Noticed a click over in my site traffic to my index.

    I most likely qualify as an agnostic atheist like most of my blogging friends: I lack a belief in gods because there’s no evidence. They might exist, but primarily because I can’t have absolute certainty in a negative outside of pure mathematics. I generally consider “impossible” to be a woo word, hence its inclusion in the index. The most I can get as a mere mortal is very high confidence from all the instances of evidence not showing up.

    You should probably try reading some of the entries. Doggerel involves the misuse of vocabulary, inherently meaningless objections, and so forth. In short, logical fallacies and deceptive word games.

  30. J. J. Ramsey

    joeynelson: “Of course, you won’t allow me to use the evidence found in the Bible”

    You’re allowed to use the Bible. It’s just not that useful because, as I pointed out before, it’s not that credible.

  31. Ok then, since J.J gave me permission, here’s something to think about.

    The resurrection really happened. I substantiate with a document that is questionable to some, but reliable to many (this may show up in a post later).

    Dr. Luke, a very meticulous Christian historian, says in Acts 1:1-3:

    I wrote the former account, Theophilus, about all that Jesus began to do and teach 1:2 until the day he was taken up to heaven, after he had given orders by the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. 1:3 After his suffering he had also presented himself alive to these apostles by many convincing proofs. He was seen by them over a forty-day period and spoke about matters concerning the kingdom of God.

    Some of these “convincing PROOFS” were visual, some were material, and some were personal.

    The Visual Proofs: Eyewitnesses testified that they had seen Christ alive after his death over a period of 40 days.

    John 20:19,26: The terrified disciples behind locked doors saw Jesus appear.

    Acts 1:21-22: The disciples were trying to select Judas of Iscariot’s replacement.

    1 Corinthians 15:6: Paul was trying to bolster the Corinthians faith in the resurrection.

    The Material Proofs: One author has noted that there are three exhibits to observe.

    1. Exhibit A: The displaced stone at the tomb. The door of Christ’s tomb was a large, circular stone set on its edge and fitted into an inclined groove. It was not uncommon for such a stone to weigh a ton. It sometimes took up to 20 men to displace a stone like that.

    2. Exhibit B: The emptiness of the tomb. Some say that the coolness of the tomb revived Christ. A view like that begs the question. How could someone who was beaten, flogged, crucified, speared in the side, and even pronounced dead by His executioners, suddenly revive, push a one-ton stone aside, overcome an entire Roman guard, and leave?

    3. Exhibit C: The grave clothes. Some suggest that Joseph of Arimathea and his servants stole the body of Jesus, took him home, and revived him. There’s only one problem with that… the grave clothes. One writer helps us to understand this with the following description: “The grave clothes were left undisturbed in the place where the body was laid. The body of Jesus was wrapped from the armpits to the ankles with strips of linen twelve inches wide. The linen wraps were then wound around the body placing spices, aloes, and other fine ointments between the wraps. It is believed that a minimum of seventy pounds of spices were used in the process and as much as a hundred pounds were used for someone of Jesus’ position. The grave clothes constituted quite a mass encasing the body. If we are to assume, for example, that Joseph and several of his servants took the body, we would expect that they were concerned about being detected. Therefore, they would have likely been in a great hurry, and we should expect that the grave clothes would have been left in great disarray with spices trailing out the doorway, not to mention that it would have been difficult to have placed the grave clothes neatly back on the resting place in the dark while being in a great hurry to do so. However, the observers did not find spices and wrappings trailing out of the doorway. The grave clothes were intact, undisturbed with the exception of the head napkin that was placed slightly above where it should have been found.”

    The Personal Proof: Perhaps, a look at the disciples would help to illustrate this point. After the crucifixion, the disciples were cringing in locked rooms, terrified that the same thing that happened to Jesus might happen to them. But after Christ’s followers experienced those intimate, personal encounters with the One that they had followed for 3 years, their lives were never the same.

    Christ made many post resurrection appearances over a forty day period. He would just appear unannounced.. At one moment, he was on a lonely road with two lonely people. At another moment, he was at supper with the disciples. Then, he was in the upper room. Then, he was by the seashore. Then, he was on the mountain side.

    Finally, the disciples did not need to see Him to believe that He was with them. He was everywhere and was at work among them. They knew that He could show up at any time. In His parting words, He said, “Behold, I am with you all the days until the consummation of the age (Matt.28:20).”

    It was after all of these personal encounters with Jesus that their lives were changed. Peter, the frightened deserter became Peter, the evangelist, only a few weeks after the resurrection. James the traditional Jew became James the welcomer of the marginalized Gentiles. Saul the church-destroyer became Paul the church-planter. These men maintained down to their dying whispers that Jesus is alive and He’s Lord and that we must know Him.

    The changed lives of the followers of Jesus and the meteoric rise of Christianity is one of the most compelling arguments for the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

    One can argue all the other proofs that are given to us in the gospels. You might even conclude that the writers of the Gospels embellished their stories a little bit (which is highly unlikely because many of them died for their beliefs, not for some lie they concocted. They maintained to their dying whispers that Jesus is alive and Lord). But you cannot argue with a changed, transformed life.

    J.B. Phillips argues accurately that to reject the resurrection, one question we must ask is: “What changed the disciples?” After Jesus was killed, they went into hiding behind locked doors. But in the book of Acts, they are seen proclaiming openly that Jesus is risen…and calling all men to share their belief that this Man was indeed God!

    The resurrection is a well substantiated historic fact. If this happened, then Christ is who he said He was and his picture of God is accurate. Which then means, that God is good. And if He is good (contrary to what the atheists would have you to believe), then He can be trusted even in the face of suffering.

  32. J. J. Ramsey

    “Dr. Luke, a very meticulous Christian historian …”

    As I pointed out earlier, I would trust Luke and the other gospel writers about as far as I can throw them. Luke 2:1-4, in particular, describes a census that is historically implausible. If he deals out a whopper like that, why should I rely on him as a major source for an extraordinary claim like the Resurrection?

    But you cannot argue with a changed, transformed life.

    Sure I can. See Leon Festinger’s book, When Prophecy Fails.

  33. Why did Christianity explode in growth in the first century in your opinion?

    What’s the problem with the census? That was very consistent with what we know of first century Roman sociology and politics.

    Luke is one of the more trustworthy of the synoptics; carefully stitching the narrative together, using terms and phrases unique to a doctor, and supporting his overall argument, but consistent with the historicity of all events mentioned in Luke-Acts.

    Let’s suppose that it’s all true. What would this mean for you personally?

  34. J. J. Ramsey

    “What’s the problem with the census?”

    If you followed the links I gave, you’d know already! If you were actually reading the opposing arguments instead of just repeating your pat talking points, you wouldn’t have blithely written that the census was “very consistent with what we know of first century Roman sociology and politics.” Pay attention.

    Anyway, I’ll repeat myself to make it easier for you: link

    “Let’s suppose that it’s all true. What would this mean for you personally?”

    It would mean that the heuristic of Occam’s razor had royally failed, because to avoid the contradictions that would keep it from being all true, you have to resort to tangled rationalizations. Actually, I’m not sure that it would even be possible for a universe to exist where all the tangled rationalizations were true.

    For example, if the creation stories in Genesis were true, then the findings from modern science would imply that the Omphalos hypothesis was true, which would in turn imply that God was deceitful. That at first blush conflicts with the idea of an omnibenevolent God, unless he has good reason to be deceitful, which would call into question whether it was “all true” anyway.

    To say “Let’s suppose that it’s all true” implies that you have something coherent to suppose.

  35. You are avoiding the question. Suppose the resurrection was really true – it actually happened. What would this mean for the world and humanity and you personally?

    How do you explain the dating scheme for the entire world that is based on the approximate time of Christ’s birth (BC & AD) if there was no resurrection?

    How do you explain Sunday becoming the primary day of worship when the early adherants were Jewish (Sabbath Day people) if there was no resurrection?

  36. J. J. Ramsey

    You are avoiding the question.

    No, you asked the question, “What if it were all true?” which I presumed meant the whole Bible, not just the resurrection.

    If we are just assuming for the sake of argument that just the resurrection is true, then it is hard to say what it would mean for the world. In and of itself, it just means that something very weird happened. The significance of it is unclear since you haven’t specified what else besides the resurrection is true. Are the reports of other miracles supposed to be true? Should we take the apocalyptic expectations of Paul and the Jesus of the Synoptics at face value? If the answer to that last question is yes, then the world as we know it wouldn’t even be here, and we wouldn’t even be born, let alone have this conversation.

    How do you explain the dating scheme for the entire world that is based on the approximate time of Christ’s birth (BC & AD) if there was no resurrection?

    Are you serious? The Gospels of Matthew and Luke give events for dating Jesus’ birth (albeit conflicting ones about ten years apart). The person who came up with the dating scheme simply worked from those events. The resurrection need not have been true for the death of Herod the Great or the census in Judea to have happened. Heck, the census in Judea need not have happened quite as described by Luke (e.g. no people going back to their ancestral homes).

    How do you explain Sunday becoming the primary day of worship when the early adherants were Jewish (Sabbath Day people) if there was no resurrection?

    All you need is Christians thinking that the resurrection happened on the third day. A story about an empty tomb need not have even existed yet for that to happen.

  37. Jesus claimed to be God. The resurrection authenticates that claim.

    The resurrection inaugurated a new era; humans, creation, and the cosmos will now be renewed, suffering abolished, and a New Eden implemented. For now, we live with hope and expectation (watching the sky, stewarding the earth), creating “new creation” until heaven and a renewed earth are wed. Plus, we face death much differently in light of resurrection.

    And, why do you think that first century Jews “thought” that Jesus arose? this is not hard. The disciples heard the report from the women first (a countercultural detail – you would never have had women as your primary first witnesses in a first century context in a concocted resurrection story) You should know this already!

    Why did they have the women as first witnesses? Because it’s exactly what happened. At first, even the disciples had some doubt and the women were like, “Guys, just go down the street and look for yourselves.” They did and we have never been the same.

    Yes. Beyond a doubt, resurrection happened. To not believe in it, you have to explain away a mountain of evidence written into history, dating, and religious practices that were aberrant from what we see in those religions up until the time of resurrection.

  38. J. J. Ramsey

    The disciples heard the report from the women first (a countercultural detail – you would never have had women as your primary first witnesses in a first century context in a concocted resurrection story)

    If women were the only witnesses to the resurrection, that would be strongly countercultural. However, the stigma of women as witnesses is undercut in Matthew, Luke, and John (and Paul, to some extent, since he doesn’t even mention the women), since the empty tomb is supposedly confirmed by witnesses of the more credible gender, that is, men.

    Also, there is a another possible, though speculative, reason for casting women as the first witnesses to the empty tomb. The author of the Gospel of Mark may have been hinting to the reader as to why the story of the empty tomb hadn’t been heard until the gospel of Mark came along. The “silly” women are dumbstruck (remember that the 1st century is sexist), and end up not telling the story that they were supposed to tell the disciples. Remember that in Mark’s account, the apostles don’t visit an empty tomb, but rather the angel tells the women that Jesus will meet them in Galilee, and the oldest texts of Mark end with 16.8: “terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.”

    Beyond a doubt, resurrection happened. To not believe in it, you have to explain away a mountain of evidence …

    Repeating your talking points again. I already pointed out before why your evidence isn’t so mountainous.

  39. More than 13 different post resurrection accounts.

    Over 500 people at one time who were still alive when Paul wrote those words… you could actually go talk to them still! (1 Cor. 15) Even skeptics saw him and acknowledged him (Thomas).

    The women as witnesses. The secular Jewish sources. The apocryphal understanding of resurrection. The timid apostles, now turned bold after the resurrection. They even died for this belief. The changed lives of Jesus’ followers, despite extensive suffering.

    The material evidence in and around the tomb. The absence of a body. The emptiness of the tomb. The Jewish leaders themselves admitted the tomb was empty (something they would not want to admit). This is enemy attestation.

    Collaborate the details and you will find, not fabrication, but history.

    So yes, the evidence for resurrection is a mountain. Start believing it today!

  40. J. J. Ramsey

    Over 500 people at one time who were still alive when Paul wrote those words… you could actually go talk to them still!

    No, we have Paul telling us that there were over 500 people, not 500 actual testimonies. That’s very weak evidence.

    A similar thing goes for the 13 post-resurrection accounts, Thomas’ skepticism, etc. They are from the gospel writers, who have proved dodgy before. Good grief, we don’t have actual enemy attestation that the Jewish leaders themselves admitted the tomb was empty, but rather the gospel writers (esp. the author of the Gospel of Matthew) claiming such an admission.

    I’ve already pointed out why the women being initial witnesses isn’t quite the countercultural thing that you claim it is.

  41. aforcier

    Joey,

    You’re a prolific writer.

    I find it strange… i search “atheism” … hoping to find ‘atheists’ but you pop up. with a thousand stories. Repeated stories. Very religious stories.

    Your “genesis” begins a few thousand years ago. Mine started at least a few billions years prior to the arrival of your “God” on earth.

    If someone had not read you ancient stories about a celestial overlord, you too would be free.

    http://www.ANaturalPhilosophy.com

  42. Who said anything about “my genesis” beginning a few thousand years ago?

    I don’t think that fits with the data.

  43. The Tofu

    “Who said anything about “my genesis” beginning a few thousand years ago?”

    Let’s see… uh… oh right, The Bible.

  44. I don’t have issues with the Genesis part; it’s the few thousand years ago that I have issues with.

  45. The Tofu

    Then take it up with the Bible. You can trace the lineages back to Adam and Eve to “prove” that the Earth has only existed for six to ten-thousand years.

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