Agnostic and fellow writer kaptonok (captain okay?) began an interesting conversation in the first part of our lengthy back and forth exchange (as found here), beginning firstly by perhaps an unintended objection to the idea of Biblical coherence, in addition to further questioning the depiction of Jesus as found in the New Testament biographies. Although, it’s in these much later exchanges where arguments from the believing side begin gaining serious (even unstoppable) momentum. Let’s begin by briefly revisiting the major points of interest as found in round one, after which we’ll return to the conversation for a second time:
[K] The vast multitude of interpretations of the Bible. . .
[OSC] Authorial intention. . .
[OSC] Ancient aliens and the book of Ezekiel. . .
[OSC] The mad, bad or God question. . .
[K] The universalised faith of Jesus. . .
[K] Ethical nihilism. . .
[OSC] The historic Jesus. . .
[OSC] The liar, Lord, lunatic or legend failure. . .
[OSC] Gert Lüdemann. . .
[K] There’s no morality in the animal kingdom. . .
[OSC] NAMBLA and tomorrow’s world. . .
[OSC] Differing the epistemological facts of the moral experience from the ontological source for the fact of moral objectivity. . .
[OSC] Cursed as lepers or fruitful as bunnies. . .
[OSC] Throwing dice and the genetic fallacy unpacked. . .
[OSC] Louis Anthony. . .
[OSC] Lewis and the witch trials. . .
[K] Selfishness is admired by most western countries. . .
[K] Sam Harris’ Moral Landscape. . .
[OSC] Banking sector ethics. . .
[OSC] The race in rat race. . .
[OSC] Richard Dawkins’ reciprocal altruism. . .
[OSC] The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven. . .
[OSC] The incoherent concept of religion with a capital R. . .
[OSC] An academic elaboration upon the aim of Harris’ Moral Landscape. . .
[OSC] Darwin and the hive bees. . .
[OSC] An ape-like creature on a speck of dust beset with delusions of moral grandeur. . .
[OSC] Sam Harris and Dr. Coyne. . .
[OSC] The trinity of silliness. . .
Kaptonok: I am not an atheist but an agnostic. I’m also an uneducated layman and I do my best to see what the experts in any particular subject have to say. Where there is consensus I accept the veiw expressed but I’m ready to change. Were does competitiveness become selfishness ? I expect you have a very different answer than mine.
I was not too impressed with The God Delusion. Richard Dawkins is much better at explaining his own expert subject The Blind Watchmaker is superb. I have ideas about reality but no fixed notions ; there is no consensus on consciousness. I don’t need fixed ideas they hamper investigation. I do paint with a broad brush to keep my word count down.
Good and evil are not features of the animal kingdom or the universe. Sam Harris was not trying to explain what he does not believe. He was making a suggestion of a useful yardstick for unbelievers, nothing more.* As for free will and the illusion of self these are not consenual issues. Professor Penrose believes conciousness is quantum triggered and that no computer could ever be self- conscious. There is no accurate interpretation of human experience.
“I’m also an uneducated layman and I do my best to see what the experts in any particular subject have to say.”
I imagine, kaptonok, you’ve gone far further in your formal education than I (most people have), nor do I belong to any official church body, nevertheless, it’s because my affections were rightly turned to the Lord that my heart wanted to understand why both you and I are having the sorts of conversation we’re having. In the beginning (not a Bible reference!) Jesus wasn’t my personal Lord and Savior, so I’m in no way writing as a sort of elite person born into the one true religion. Rather I first had to be humbled by the weight of the evidence which went against my viewpoints, and it’s in that that my wants could be for time changed. Now, I’m typing much of the material here having finished the vast majority of my post (it’s a biggie), and in so doing I can write how I find (or found) many of its points to be compelling. Hopefully you too will find their structure and studious background of use. I’ve also reread your earlier messages to get a second handle of the overarching themes of our conversation.
“Jesus taught mankind was one large tribe and God had no favorites.”
In a fashion I agree, since in Genesis we find God wanting to bless the entire world through Abraham’s chosen child (Genesis 22:18). Nevertheless, there’s an outright divide in how God perceives certain people according to the teaching of Christ as found in the gospel of John:
‘Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I have come here from God. I have not come on my own; God sent me. Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me! Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe me? Whoever belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.”
The above isn’t to suppose that God has favorites in the sense of human worth, since in 2 Peter 3:9 it’s explained how God desires that none should persist, rather the Father hopes against hope all people could come to Him and have eternal life. However, the earlier quotation is evidence of a deep divide in affection between believers and those trapped in unbelief. The Pharisees (especially so), Sadducees and Essenes weren’t exactly unacquainted with their scriptures after all, so in what way did Christ mean they were sons of their father the devil?
Christ taught: “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires.” Which would mean their deficiency in the eyes of God wasn’t necessarily with regards to their knowledge, Job after all, whose life pre-dated Moses, Christ and almost every other Biblical figure was favored by God due the quality of their character, not their knowledge of doctrines or covenants yet even begun, part of that good character had to have been their love and affection for their Creator. Thomas Nagel in their famous quote concerning religion and desire would clearly serve as the opposite end of the spectrum:
“In speaking of the fear of religion, I don’t mean to refer to the entirely reasonable hostility toward certain established religions and religious institutions, in virtue of their objectionable moral doctrines, social policies, and political influence. Nor am I referring to the association of many religious beliefs with superstition and the acceptance of evident empirical falsehoods. I am talking about something much deeper–namely, the fear of religion itself. I speak from experience, being strongly subject to this fear myself: I want atheism to be true and am made uneasy by the fact that some of the most intelligent and well-informed people I know are religious believers.
I want atheism to be true and am made uneasy by the fact that some of the most intelligent and well-informed people I know are religious believers. It isn’t just that I don’t believe in God and, naturally, hope that I’m right in my belief. It’s that I hope there is no God! I don’t want there to be a God; I don’t want the universe to be like that.”
Thomas Nagel in the above could cause an interesting chicken or egg situation hereafter. Are atheists unmoved by what they perceive as weak arguments for the existence of God, due to which they’re found lacking affection for the Christian perspective, a perspective which features an omnipotent God who compromises our ability to indulge in all that we please free from judgment of our character and “ultimate justice.”?
Or are we seeing the issue in reverse. Instead it’s that atheists find an omnipotent God who compromises our ability to indulge in all that we please free from judgment of our character and ultimate justice extremely unattractive, due to which arguments which lead to our believing in such an entity are thoroughly undermined. Surely it’s an insult to each others intelligence to assume as a default position that atheists suchlike Sam Harris, Huxley and Richard Dawkins are sober discoverers who by their atheism/agnostic flirtation are enlightening our societies.
Whereas believers, as the story goes according to popular culture, are obsolete brutes, a hateful collective impediment of elderly and fanatical people informed merely through their paralytic fear of the unknown. Yet haven’t your messages done exactly that, that is to say, they’ve tried to analyze the motivations and intentions of religious people in an unsuccessful attempt at gaining justification to dismiss their position (the genetic fallacy). Alvin Plantinga on pages 70 and 71 of their Knowledge and Christian belief book explains how unique the idea of holding Christian belief truly is in light of James 2:12, which once over feeds into affective disorders and for what other reasons we decide what we do:
“According to the model, the shape of the answer is given in the text just mentioned: the demons shudder. They believe these things, but hate them; and they hate God as well. Perhaps they also hope against hope that these things aren’t really so, or perhaps they believe them in a self-deceived way. They know of God’s power and know that they have no hope of winning any contest with him; nevertheless, they engage in just such a contest, perhaps in that familiar self-deceived condition of really knowing, in one sense, that they couldn’t possibly win, while at some other level nevertheless refusing to accept this truth, or hiding it from themselves.
Or perhaps the problem here is not cognitive but affective: knowing that they couldn’t possibly win, they insist on fighting anyway, thinking of themselves as courageously Promethean, as heroically contending against nearly insuperable odds, a condition, they point out, in which God never finds himself, and hence a way in which they can think of themselves as his moral superior. The devils also know of God’s wonderful scheme for the salvation of human beings, but they find this scheme, with its mercy and long suffering, offensive and unworthy. No doubt they endorse Nietzsche’s notion that the promotion of Christian love (including the love displayed in the incarnation and atonement) is a strategy on the part of those who are contemptibly weak, whining, resentful, craven, cowardly, servile, duplicitous, and pusillanimous.
The person with faith, however, not only believes central claims of the Christian faith; she also (paradigmatically) finds the whole scheme of salvation enormously attractive, delightful, moving, a source of amazed wonderment. She is deeply grateful to the Lord for his great goodness and responds to his sacrificial love with love of her own. The difference between believer and devil, therefore, lies at least partly in the area of affection: love and hate, attraction and revulsion, desire and detestation. In traditional categories, the difference lies in the orientation of the will.”
Similarly in their epic poem Paradise Lost John Milton has Satan saying the famous quote “Better to rule in Hell than serve in Heaven.” Meaning a person would sooner be the captain of their own ship, even a sinking ship, than cling to the rock of salvation.
“Where there is consensus I accept the view expressed but I’m ready to change.”
Now, we’re into more of the gritty details where I imagine we can disagree on equal terms. The consensus insofar as North Koreans are concerned is that the United States of America is crumbling and therefore requires Korean aid money to repair their leaky roofs. Now, considering what such people are allowed to know, it’s both rational and in keeping with the scientific, religious and political consensus to believe in an America which instead of leading the world in a great many things is in a crumbling heap upon its knees. Similarly for you and I to casually drink down “the consensus” as if it were some infallible kool-aid wouldn’t be well advised, especially so if such a consensus went against a realm of moral values and duties immediately accessible in our lives.* Furthermore, our earlier exchange on the subject of banking ethics (serendipitously) adds an explanation into how our society of scientists are equally uncritical when there’s money, attention and some measure of immortality to be gained, an example coming form the life of Charles Dawson:
“Charles Dawson had made a name for himself by finding fossils in Sussex, and passing them on to Sir Arthur Smith Woodward at what is now the Natural History Museum, London. Dawson now claimed that at some point before 1910, a workman had handed him a dark-stained and thick piece of human skull. He said that recognizing that this might be part of an ancient human, he had continued to dig at the site and collected more pieces of skull. On 14 February 1912, he wrote to Woodward with news of exciting discoveries, and that summer Woodward joined him to excavate at Piltdown. They found more fragments of skull, and the bones and teeth of extinct British animals such as elephants, rhinos and beavers. They also found primitive stone tools, and a remarkable ape-like jaw.
On the basis of these finds, Woodward constructed a skull that seemed to supply the missing link in the evolutionary path between humans and the apes. With a brain the same size as that of modern humans, and a very ape-like jaw, Piltdown Man was born. Then in 1915 Dawson claimed to have found another molar tooth, and some skull pieces, just two miles from the original Piltdown dig site. These looked similar to those of Piltdown Man, and the find was dubbed Piltdown Man II. With two family members and the backing of the Natural History Museum, Piltdown Man thus became generally accepted.
He (Dr Kenneth Oakley) joined forces with Professor Joe Weiner and Sir Wilfrid Le Gros Clark from Oxford, to apply stringent tests to all the Piltdown remains. They realized that the human-like wear pattern on the teeth had been created by artificially filing down the teeth from an orang-utan jaw. The skull pieces were found to have come from an unusually thick-boned – but quite recent – human skull. It had simply been boiled and stained to match the color and antiquity of the gravels.*
Although many of the mammal fossils were genuine, they had also been stained to match the skull and came from all over the world. It turned out that every single one of the 40 odd finds at Piltdown had been planted. On 21 November 1953 the news broke, and headline writers revelled in the Natural History Museum’s embarrassment: ‘Fossil Hoax Makes Monkeys Out Of Scientists!’ Weiner and Oakley quickly began an investigation to uncover the identity of the hoaxer. Who had had the access, the expertise and the motive to carry out such an outrageous forgery?”
Fellow agnostic David Berlinski, in an interview available on YouTube explains in plain speak how the myth of scientists as objective, truth finding robots is as ridiculous as it sounds when properly challenged:
“We are asking for a standard of behavior that would be wonderful to expect, but that no serious man actually does expect, 100 years of fraudulent drawings suggesting embryological affinities that don’t exist, that’s just what I would expect if biologists were struggling to maintain a position of power within a secular democratic society. Let’s be reasonable, we’re all sophisticated men and women here, the popular myth of science as a uniquely self critical institution and scientists as men who would rather be consumed at the stake rather than fudge their data, I mean, that’s okay for a PBS special, but that’s not the real world, that’s not what’s taking place, people fudge the data whenever they can get away with it (OSC: Even the great Einstein has his fudge factor!). And they’ll commit themselves to fraudulent drawings just so long as they’re convinced that nobody is looking over their shoulder, and it’s unrealistic, unsophisticated and unwise and to expect people to do anything other than that.”
Now, the above, although in large about evolution, isn’t an attack upon evolution on my part, instead it’s merely an example of how our belief in various institutions (churches included) can run amok, obscuring truth in the life of an unwitting community.
“I was not too impressed with The God Delusion.”
Most definitely, considering its run away success and tremendous cultural influence I thought it only fair to give The God Delusion my thorough attention. Though imagine my surprise when I discovered this runaway success, one which I read many years after its original realize, wasn’t a thoughtful, well considered, heavily researched book examining the God concept, but rather a 400 page plus internet style rant which claimed religious people had brain illnesses, religious scientists were liars hiding their true atheism, and that he and his like minded dinner party guests have a riotous time mocking believers of various stripes.
Who seriously bought into this book’s message?! Millions of atheists apparently. For what reason could geniuses in their particular field become shrieking fanatics when plainly faced with the truth claims of the Christian faith, and I write the Christian faith very consciously, mostly because page for page Dawkins’ ire is raised primarily against the Christian worldview. Though aren’t the tools of insult, caricature and outright fabrication employed when people are out of ideas, frustrated and confused by some far superior position, most reassuringly so.
In fact, the entire enterprise of New Atheism appears in hindsight simply to have been about singling out, victimizing and humiliating believers in the Christian worldview. Although, that isn’t to say the infidel community would be satisfied by merely threatening Christians who dared contradict their atheism. Instead they’d have used intimidation and mockery upon anyone who might even be undecided, an example from Richard Dawkins’ blog:
“I am more interested in the fence-sitters who haven’t really considered the question very long or very carefully. And I think that they are likely to be swayed by a display of naked contempt. Nobody likes to be laughed at. Nobody wants to be the butt of contempt.”
The above to me is just an extraordinary things for a supposed enlightened person to write, since to suppose that your main interests are people ignorant of the subject simply says Dawkins is after low hanging fruit, the philosophically untrained and spiritually dull who can’t search out the numerous blunders which overwhelm his often hate filled ranting. Dawkins then goes on to say he believes naked contempt should be enough to convince the undecided people like yourself into becoming atheists. Meaning he desired atheists to either ridicule a Christian in front of you, for which you’d be so terrified you’d join the mob rather than risk being victimized next, or they’d remove the middleman and shame you directly in the hopes you’d then attack Christian believers to remove any suspicion from yourself. How filled with hatred and venom must a person be to imagine such a plane, moreover, Dawkins’ followers simply eat these tactics up. It comes as no surprise then that Alister McGrath in their excellent book The Dawkins Delusion utterly takes to task Dawkins’ The God Delusion:
‘Western atheism had waited patiently, believing that belief in God would simply die out. But now, a whiff of panic is evident. Far from dying out belief in God has rebounded and seems set to exercise still greater influence in both the public and private spheres. The God Delusion expresses this deep anxiety, partly reflecting an intense distaste for religion. Yet there is something deeper here, often overlooked in the heat of debate. The anxiety is that the coherence of atheism itself is at stake. Might the unexpected resurgence of religion persuade many that atheism itself is fatally flawed as a worldview? The God Delusion seems more designed to reassure atheists whose faith is faltering than to engage fairly or rigorously with religious believers and others seeking for truth.
(One wonders if this is because the writer is himself an atheist whose faith is faltering.) Religious believers will be dismayed by its ritual stereotyping of religion and will find its manifest lack of fairness a significant disincentive to take its arguments and concerns seriously. Seekers after truth who would not consider themselves religious may also find themselves shocked by Dawkins’s aggressive rhetoric, his substitution of personal creedal statements for objective engagement with evidence, his hectoring and bullying tone toward “dyed-in the-wool faith-heads” and his utter determination to find nothing but fault with religion of any kind. It is this deep, unsettling anxiety about the future of atheism that explains the “high degree of dogmatism” and “aggressive rhetorical style” of this new secular fundamentalism. Fundamentalism arises when a worldview feels it is in danger, lashing out at its enemies when it fears its own future is threatened. The God Delusion is a work of theater rather than scholarship—a fierce, rhetorical assault on religion and passionate plea for it to be banished to the lunatic fringes of society, where it can do no harm.’
The above material really ought to speak to your earlier assertion that believers merely contrive an idea of ultimate justice because they’re set against so cruel and perilously an environment. In reality, such a pointed accusation as the above isn’t a single edged sword, rather the blade cuts both ways (injuring atheists far more than believers who have long faced death for Christ).
“I don’t need fixed ideas they hamper investigation.”
You’re constraint to a fixed idea in the above assertion! Just turn the claim upon itself. You’re holding to the fixed idea that holding on to fixed ideas would hamper your investigative powers. Moreover, you’re applying a second, third and even a forth fixed idea, the second being that we’re in an orderly universe whereby you’re able to investigate some cosmic constants (thus gaining in knowledge), in addition, there’s an assumption in the above that you’re capable of discerning by way of the prison of your mind and senses the reality of things. And lastly, you’re assuming the reliability of the scientific method! That’s a philosophic assumption, primarily because you can’t use science to prove science, which would be reasoning in a circle. These are enormous assumptions on a person’s part. Moreover, when you write “We are more enlightened now than ever before.” you’re supposing we’re as a species involved in an advancement in knowledge, rather than having a plethora of unproven assumptions (the applicability of science and maths included), why not conclude life and the universe are simply absurd?
Perhaps because both you and I really do find ourselves in a mysterious ordered universe, the like of which with its finely tuned constants, necessary first cause, moral dimension and agents to observe its progression, rather than pointing to a valueless accident banged to no purpose, testifies to its Creator’s hand.
Simply unpacking your idea of no ultimate justice must send a shiver down any rational person’s spine (instinctively speaking). Moreover, your message about Jesus having flourished in an unscientific age speaks to the fact you’re keen to explain our universe through an “enlightened”, more modern fashion. Where however would a modern, scientific prediction on the fate of the universe lead humankind, and are such findings worthy of the finely ordered, material rich and life supporting set of parameters apparently inherent to our universe from the get go? Not exactly.
“Scientists tell us that the universe is expanding, and everything in it is growing farther and farther apart. As it does so, it grows colder and colder, and its energy is used up. Eventually all the stars will burn out and all matter will collapse into dead stars and black holes. There will be no light at all; there will be no heat; there will be no life; only the corpses of dead stars and galaxies, ever expanding into the endless darkness and the cold recesses of space—a universe in ruins. So not only is the life of each individual person doomed; the entire human race is doomed. There is no escape. There is no hope.
Look at it from another perspective: Scientists say that the universe originated in an explosion called the “Big Bang” about 13 billion years ago. Suppose the Big Bang had never occurred. Suppose the universe had never existed. What ultimate difference would it make? The universe is doomed to die anyway. In the end it makes no difference whether the universe ever existed or not. Therefore, it is without ultimate significance.*
The same is true of the human race. Mankind is a doomed race in a dying universe. Because the human race will eventually cease to exist, it makes no ultimate difference whether it ever did exist. Mankind is thus no more significant than a swarm of mosquitos or a barnyard of pigs, for their end is all the same. The same blind cosmic process that coughed them up in the first place will eventually swallow them all again.
And the same is true of each individual person. The contributions of the scientist to the advance of human knowledge, the researches of the doctor to alleviate pain and suffering, the efforts of the diplomat to secure peace in the world, the sacrifices of good men everywhere to better the lot of the human race–all these come to nothing. This is the horror of modern man: because he ends in nothing, he is nothing.” (WLC’s The Absurdity of Life without God).
Why are we here to no purpose, isn’t such a universe as this absurd. How can anyone, any scientist, who must surely value knowledge, believe that the universe, the only universe in which humanity abides, was from the very beginning to raise up existence only to snuff that same life out. The very notion goes against every experiment, selfless act and spoken word from the faintest whisper to terrible scream, nevertheless, if (and this is a big if) you deny ultimate justice and believe science is all that can answer your concerns, then this is eternity as decided by the scientific consensus, a dead universe populated by black holes expanding into eternity, where no eye sees, no ear hears and where the darkness doesn’t stare back because nobody is there.*
Still we’re here in the now, free to dread, weep and mourn our own annihilation, thus the threat of non-being shall be realized. However, someone who we both admire taught that the above wasn’t going to be the case, and they being upright, generous and kind gave us an assurance of the promises they made. Moreover, their teaching promises an entirely different future for you and I if only we allow Him into our lives. He promised every tear would be dried, every wrong righted, He promised not only would there be justice done, but justice would be seen to be done, which means every mouth arguing to confuse or justify an evil would be stopped. According to their teaching our universe is certainly in danger, even in danger of passing away, yet our lives are so precious to Him, and His hand so capable of protecting you that He promises you a future without darkness, because God would be the light of your life. How different from the future the natural sciences predict. Furthermore, this rabbi who we both admire didn’t cling to life as we accuse believers of doing, instead He touched the flesh of men and women diseased with contagious leprosy promising they’d be healed again. The rabbi then, historically speaking, predicted when and where the religious elite would murder Him, yet rather than avoid such a city they traveled there knowing full well the painful, humiliating death which eventually awaited.
They were later in the week accused of a great many things, none of which appeared to be justified when examined thoroughly. Perhaps it was due to this that His accusers asked Him plainly, and they, knowing Him an honest and virtuous man, believed if the rabbi would merely answer how He had done before, He might again incriminate Himself in their eyes. The religious elite asked: “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?” To which the defendant replied “I am, and you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.” The rabbi believing so sacrilegious an idea made for the high priest to tear at his clothes, upon which they said: “You have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?” Every member of the council then sentenced Jesus son of Joseph to death. Then some began to spit at him; they blindfolded him, struck him with their fists, and said, “Prophesy! Who hit you?” And the guards took him and beat him.
Couldn’t this Jesus have denied His identify before His accusers and lived, undoubtedly yes. He could have denied Himself and lived, or quoted Socrates saying: “The only true wisdom is knowing we know nothing!” Instead the rabbi, meek and mild, answered in such a way as He knew would in the eyes of His enemies merit death. Regardless, I’m going to share from the Roman historian Flavius Josephus hereafter, who in their The Wars of the Jews mentioned another Jesus who flourished and preached in and around 66AD, some 30 years after Jesus son of Joseph:
“Jesus ben Ananias was a plebeian and a husbandman, who, four years before the First Jewish-Roman War began in 66 AD, went around Jerusalem prophesying the city’s destruction.”
‘But a further portent was even more alarming. Four years before the war, when the city was enjoying profound peace and prosperity, there came to the feast at which it is the custom of all Jews to erect tabernacles to God, one Jesus, son of Ananias, a rude peasant, who suddenly began to cry out, “A voice from the east, a voice from the west, a voice from the four winds, a voice against Jerusalem and the sanctuary, a voice against the bridegroom and the bride, a voice against all the people.” Day and night he went about all the alleys with this cry on his lips. Some of the leading citizens, incensed at these ill-omened words, arrested the fellow and severely chastised him.
But he, without a word on his own behalf or for the private ear of those who smote him, only continued his cries as before. Thereupon, the magistrates, supposing, as was indeed the case, that the man was under some supernatural impulse, brought him before the Roman governor; there, although flayed to the bone with scourges, he neither sued for mercy nor shed a tear, but, merely introducing the most mournful of variations into his utterances, responded to each lashing with “Woe to Jerusalem!” When Albinus, the governor, asked him who and whence he was and why he uttered these cries, he answered him never a word, but unceasingly reiterated his dirge over the city, until Albinus pronounced him a maniac and let him go.’
The procurator Albinus took him to be a madman and released him. He continued his prophecy for more than seven years until he was killed by a stone from a catapult during the Roman siege of Jerusalem during the war. So, for what reason would one irritant (the son of Ananias) be realized as merely a lunatic, whereas another preacher, the lowly son of a carpenter, suffered the “extreme penalty” (meaning crucifixion) according to the Roman senator and historian Tacitus?
The only answer to the above could be that Jesus said certain things while on trial before the religious elite and Pontius Pilate, whereas Jesus the son of Ananias couldn’t rightly make claims of that nature. Still, what could Jesus have said which would offend Romans in addition to Jewish listeners? We find the answer for reading chapter 19 of the gospel of John:
Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head. They clothed him in a purple robe and went up to him again and again, saying, “Hail, king of the Jews!” And they slapped him in the face.
Once more Pilate came out and said to the Jews gathered there, “Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no basis for a charge against him.” When Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe, Pilate said to them, “Here is the man!”
As soon as the chief priests and their officials saw him, they shouted, “Crucify! Crucify!”
But Pilate answered, “You take him and crucify him. As for me, I find no basis for a charge against him.” The Jewish leaders insisted, “We have a law, and according to that law he must die, because he claimed to be the Son of God.” When Pilate heard this, he was even more afraid, and he went back inside the palace. “Where do you come from?” he asked Jesus, but Jesus gave him no answer. “Do you refuse to speak to me?” Pilate said. “Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?”
Jesus answered, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.” From then on, Pilate tried to set Jesus free, but the Jewish leaders kept shouting, “If you let this man go, you are no friend of Caesar. Anyone who claims to be a king opposes Caesar.”
When Pilate heard this, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judge’s seat at a place known as the Stone Pavement (which in Aramaic is Gabbatha). It was the day of Preparation of the Passover; it was about noon. “Here is your king,” Pilate said to the Jews.
But they shouted, “Take him away! Take him away! Crucify him!”
“Shall I crucify your king?” Pilate asked.
“We have no king but Caesar,” the chief priests answered. Finally Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified. So the soldiers took charge of Jesus. Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha). There they crucified him, and with him two others—one on each side and Jesus in the middle. Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read: jesus of nazareth, the king of the jews.
Now, neither you nor I believe Jesus was a deceptive character of history, moreover to lie and get one’s own self crucified, given the context (given any context!) makes no sense unless you’re a lunatic. Now, Jesus ben Ananias was judged a lunatic by his contemporaries, not Jesus the Christ however. Meaning if we return again to C.S Lewis’ liar, Lord or lunatic question we’re right to dismiss two of the three, and having already done away with legend, there’s then only one reasonable viewpoint available with regards to the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ, that being that He was and is Lord.
Moreover, we’re both interested in the subject of who Jesus truly is not because He was crucified (thousands of people have been), nor because they were an excellent moral teacher, instead we’re interested because rather than be by the grave transformed into a tourist attraction (Buddha’s bones), or site for pilgrimage (Muhammad’s grave), Jesus Christ returned just as He promised. To quote from The Book of Acts certainly evidences what early believers thought:
“Fellow Israelites, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.*
David said about him: I saw the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest in hope, because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, you will not let your holy one see decay. You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence.
Fellow Israelites, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day. But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne. Seeing what was to come, he spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, that he was not abandoned to the realm of the dead, nor did his body see decay. God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it.”
The question from earlier in my estimation is still the pink elephant in the room, partly because you’ve yet to venture a reply. Who do we say that Jesus was?
Kaptonok: Might I respectfully suggest you see in me your old unredeemed self. It is perfectly possible to be a believing rejectionist . If this is your creation God I want no part of it. My standpoint is very different. I see no evidence in the world or the universe at large to suggest an intelligent loving creator. As for enlightening societies the only enlightening I can see is scientific advance. I see no moral improvement. I have no wish to dismiss the position of religious people ; I merely state my own position. You must not be surprized that scientists can love attention and money or that they can lie and cheat.
Their worst fault at this time is gazing into space instead of tackling the two most urgent problems: climate and antibiotic resistance. I think Mr Dawkins has a very Christian background so he feels comfortable tearing down Christianity. Dawkins is afraid of the effect of fairy stories; he reminds me of Mr Gradgrind in Dickens Hard Times. He wanted nothing but facts. Belief in mainstream religions has been adjusted not died out.*
We have big – bang Christianity same sex marriage women ministers ect..Islam is in the process of adjustment. Perhaps the fixed ideas of religion are moving to accomodate the modern world. Your the one who keeps saying the universe has a moral dimension. I have yet to see it. I see it only in man. Our purpose is to make the world a better place in the here and now. I brought up my four children knowing they will grow old and die. Maybe even die before thier time. Why was I envolved in such a sensless task? You know the answer.
“no evidence in the world or the universe at large to suggest an intelligent loving creator”, “no moral improvement”, Has the enlightenment truly been so enlightening when the simplest of facts, facts like it’s wrong to steal, murder and destroy are cast into doubt? How enlightened are people to not recognize the difference between loving an infant, and brutally murdering them (apparently this is the bright future in store for the militant Godless.) Yet even agnostics, Christians and Muslims are getting in on the act, there’s seemingly no society in the world where an ever growing class of nominal believers in a thing are present, for example, there are “Muslims” in the UK who don’t understand Qur’an chapter 9 verse 29, there are “Christians” who reject Jesus as God, and there are agnostics who appear to affirm everything the atheist does. Is there something more to the rise of the nominal? Could there be an answer to Dawkins’ high mocking tone, and are the above complaints really able to stand up to proper scrutiny, in part three we’re going to find out.
― T. C. M