‘In the absence of evidence to determine which religion is actually right, how can you reconcile all these divergent beliefs with science?’
Your question also relates to science. In ‘The Structure of Scientific Revolutions’, Thomas Kuhn gives several examples showing that progress in science is not as objective as many would let on. Max Planck said, ‘A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.’ So, scientific ‘evidence’ can lead to divergent beliefs in science. Beliefs that are held due to personal preference.
But to answer your question: ‘Why should Christianity be the truth?’
Because the other systems are constructions by men - systems that fit within man’s reasoning. Christianity is God’s revelation to man - God declares who His is, who man is, etc. Jesus is central since His is God’s revelation in flesh.
Men don’t want to have to answer to God, so they made up ‘religions’ to justify themselves. They believe that if they hold up their part of the contract (the one they wrote out according to their own understanding) then God is obligated to honor their efforts. So, they make themselves equal to God.
You see, Christianity is not about knowing or discovering facts like science. It is about attitudes and motives in relation to God and other men first. In Christianity God reaches down to transform men because men cannot change themselves in their own power.
Science cannot make us moral beings because morality is not based in the mind but in the soul. Honest scientists do not honor honesty because honesty was discovered or proven by science. They honor honesty because they are moral beings first.
I wanted to open a new topic about it and just found this one. It is a really tough question.
Why are we so lucky to be in the right one among near 4000 religions in history ?
My reasons are the following:
1)The vast majority of those religions are based on a “national God” or more “national Gods”.So we have the Gods of Egypt, Gods of Vikings… Our God is an Universal one so His revelation is addressed to all humanity.
In this concept he is similar to Allah but in point 2 i’ll explain the difference
2)The Bible is written by lots of different people in different times that point to the same thing.
Bible is based on multiple revelations of God, not like in Islam where everything is supposed to be revealed to Muhammad. While in the Old Testament God could be seen as a National God like all the others(God of Israel) from the New we know that He is not like that.
3) Jesus Christ.
Christianity is the only religion (correct me if i am wrong) where God is not “in the sky and in the sky only” but He descended on Earth and become one of us to teach how to reach His kingdom and to sacrifice Himself for us.
Why telling the world He is resurrected risking continuosly to die if it was a hoax ? Christianity has been widespread around the world peacefully in its beginning, becoming a real danger for Roman empire values and religion.
5) Countless Miracles
You’ll not probably agree with this statement.
Being Catholic, I believe in Eucharistic miracles that have a strong scientific evidence(4 analysed, same AB blood group, bread using in Mass turned into miocardic tissue).
To this we can add lots of supernatural events that belong to the tradition of Catholic and non-Catholic christianity.
Catholic church has a great attention in evaluating them(for example from a pool of 7500 unexplained healings of Lourdes analysed by scientists of different views on religions from 1885 only 70 have been declared as “miracles”)
(The only thing that matters is faith expressed in love.)
Because the best case God emerges from Christianity. Which has nothing to do with science, but from rationality applied to the premiss of God. Religion is in our genes. As is existential desire.
For me the reason why I place my faith in our God as opposed to other gods us simply because I was born in a country where the main god mentioned is the god of Abraham. That’s a undeniable truth for me and I am ok with it. I can’t tell you what would have happened if u was born in Japan 1500 years ago or in Iran 200 years from now.
Once I got older and begin to study my faith more and more in depth I begin to see how beautiful of a book it is with patterns echoed again and again. Things like the tree of life in the garden to the trees Noah cut down to build a arc to the tree whose branch was used by Moses as a staff all the way to the Messiah killed on a tree. I see the patterns of Cain killing Abel in the field and God asking ,” what have you done” to Jesus being taken from the orchard and crying out to God, “ they don’t know what they hVe done” and so on. It’s a beautiful story and I have no reason to cast it aside.
So for me there is not a scientific or solid social answer to why I am a Christian. I am, and I place my faith in it and I don’t see it ever dissolving away. For me, even if it all turned out to be fake, I lost nothing. At worse I learned my ethics and morals from the greatest book I have ever read hanging out with my best friends in the book club. Even if God is fake, I have so many blessings in life attributed to the belief in him from myself and others. But I don’t have any real doubt. I do believe and I share it.
There are 18 different interpretations of Quantum Mechanics listed on the Wikipedia article and 14 of the most common are compared in a chart. Why should one of these be the truth? Most physics professors explain three or more to their students and do not insist that only one is correct. Why? Because most are attempts to explain the same facts, and there are no objective facts to show that one is correct. The lesson here is that without demonstrable facts we cannot insist one way of thinking is correct over another. This is particularly true of religion. Does this mean I think there are many ways to God? No.
Light is composed of waves. No, light is composed of particles. Wait! Particles and waves are so fundamentally different it would seem impossible that both can be true. And yet it is accepted that both are true. The lesson here is that we cannot trust seeming contradictions. Thus a common insistence in most religious points of view (including atheism) that they cannot all be true doesn’t follow.
This at least is one of the things we learn from science. But science is one thing and life is another. Religion is primarily about life and life doesn’t wait for demonstrable facts and proof. You have to live now and so you have choose how you are going to live – such are the questions of religion. So you choose one and you live by it.
I wasn’t. I wasn’t raised Christian. Anything but. I was raised by two of the most extremely liberal people that most can imagine with ready criticisms of the Christian establishment all my life. And those criticisms are valid, so I am not talking about a bunch of propaganda which I later learned to be false.
But I am Christian now. And I don’t see how it can be just luck since I considered quite a number of different religions growing up.
So what are my reasons for choosing Christianity? Because I will tell you right now, not one of the reasons ylsalvus gave does anything for me (though #3 comes close).
I was quite a bit surprised how much of the Bible consists of criticism of religion. Christianity is not blind to the problems of religion – far from it.
Because of the doctrine of the Trinity, this is not a God made in the image of man. And yet this is not a God who is in any way less than we are.
Christianity teaches both that this life is not all there is, but at the same time we have to get the most out of life while we can.
What I see taught in Christianity is that there are no ways to God. We cannot do it. This is the gospel of salvation by the grace of God – not by religion or religious knowledge but by the work of God in our lives. Which is not to say that God does not use different religions to teach people.
The God I see in Christianity is one who chose love and freedom over power and control. Philippians 2:5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross.
To be sure there are many notions of God in Christianity I do not believe in: meglomaniac, purist, hard hearted, unforgiving, controlling, wrathful, and sadistic. And I reject all of these. But there is also another uniquely Christian idea of God which I can believe in: the humble God, who is gentle and lowly in heart, who not caring anything about being God, set aside all His power and knowledge to become a helpless human infant, and after growing up perfectly blameless to show how we should live, He was mocked and whipped before being executed on a cross. This He did this in order for us to get past all the lies and misunderstandings, to show how much He loves us and thus to heal our relationship with the infinite God in whom we can find eternal life.
I entered this life as a ‘Cradle Catholic’, and even though having chosen a career in science (70 yr. ACS member), I have served over 20 yrs. as a Eucharistic minister in the local St. George parish. The privilege of distributing the Sacred Host to parishioners and seeing a simple Faith shining in their eyes, was crucial in my retaining some meaningful Faith of my own. But if I could choose my ‘patron saint’, it would be the Apostle, ‘Doubting Thomas’.
The attempt to prove that the ‘transubstantiation’ said to occur at Mass can be given ‘scientific proof’ by an analysis showing AB blood group or miocardic tissue, is, IMHO, simply repulsive, and has an effect totally opposite of what was intended–limiting Catholic Faith to those totally ignorant or totally misinformed. How can I say this when I did not personally participate in the purported ‘analysis’? Easy. I have Faith in Science. I personally did not perform any of the experiments that show the hydrocarbon, benzene, to be best depicted as a 6-membered ring with a special form of unsaturation. After reading the accounts of dozens of respected chemists who DID the necessary experiments, and my own success after relying on the results, I can have confidence in using the depiction of the benzene ring as I do. What are the odds that repeatable analysis of the consecrated host by reputable scientists show it to actually consist of heart tissue? Certainly not the kind of favorable odds that I would like the ‘fate of my eternal soul’ to depend upon.
But what about the healings of Lourdes, 70 of which are claimed to be miracles (by scientist of repute?) I don’t claim to have an answer–other than that no one has yet proposed a workable “Theory of Everything” and God’s Ways may be more mysterious than we will ever know.
There is a scientific committee in Lourdes that evaluates the miracles and from 1885 cases of unexplicable healings are thousands. Catholic Church only recognized few of them. I agree with you that rationality of a faith must not only be based on miracles… It is for this reason that I put it as my fifth reason and not my first one. About the 4 miracles I am talking, more than one group of scientists for each one has revealed the same results. Is this the proof for transubstantiation? Obviously not but I don’t see any scientific explanation and also them couldn’t provide. Before they tried with an attack of the bacterium serratia marcescens that explained a supposed miracle in Bolsena,1278, but they couldn’t explain the miracle of 1996 in Buenos Aires, like those one of 2006,2008 and 2013 in Tixtla, Sokolka and Legnica. They said there has not been any bacterial activity and that it scientifically unexplainable. Are you a chemist(is acs chemist association?) Sorry I am not American…
So for this reason you’ll know a lot of things more than me about reactions, I am an engineer, more related to process…
I was just surprised about the fact that now we can analyze miracles, that in the past was not possible… And having reported a tissue of a suffering man, with same blood group in 4 different miracles, to me it is incredible…
Yeah most at least start out that way including Yahweh, God of Israel, but then it spreads beyond national boundaries to other people. This is certainly the case with all the major religions… Hinduism and Islam as well as Christianity.
You are wrong. Hinduism teaches that God became man a few different times… like Krishna.
Huh? If He wasn’t resurrected then He didn’t tell anyone any such thing.
Correct… I do not agree that there is strong evidence for any miracles… this is a contradiction in terms as far as I am concerned.
I was talking about the Apostles and not about Jesus.Why would they risk their lives to preach His gospel if the resurrection is not true (what the vast majority of non-believers think).
What do you mean by evidence ? That if science cannot explain it then in the future there could be an explanation ? I know that science must not declare a “miracle” and can only study a phenomenon without religious bias but here there is a problem of what can we trust more… Science or God ? I think that we must trust science in everything that is natural but when we find something unexplained God may be an answer(or maybe not, atheists could accuse me to talk about the ‘God of the Gaps’ ).
It is always a pleasure for me to talk with you about huge issues…
that’s not one more question to ponder, that’s four.
The question isn’t should it be the truth, the question at hand must be, is it true.
If there were, in fact, no evidence to determine which is right, then I would not believe Christianity to be true,p (or any other religion). If there were truly “no evidence”, then all religions would be equally shot-in-the dark speculations created by human imagination, and all should be discarded as such. But I of course don’t agree with that claim. Do you consider Jesus’s life, claims, and especially his resurrection from the dead, not to be “evidence”?
To borrow the words from my favorite Christian writer…
If Christianity is untrue, then no honest man will want to believe it, however helpful it might be: if it is true, every honest man will want to believe it, even if it gives him no help at all.
Good question. I meant the objective evidence accepted by science. But you are right, I agree that there is such a thing as subjective evidence. Personal experience may not be sufficient for expecting others to agree with you but it is even more unreasonable to expect people not to go with what their own personal experiences have shown to them.
Sorry I was too brief with my last response. Yes, I joined the American Chemical Society after receiving my bachelors degree at Pomona College (1948). Later I received my doctorate in physical organic chemistry from the U. of Chicago studying reaction mechanisms based on the breaking of a carbon-to-deuterium bond. The details of these mechanisms depends greatly on a knowledge of the structure of liquid water. A great deal of research was undertaken in the mid 20th century to understand the structure of water–some of it was accepted for a time as suitably ‘explaining’ some properties, but not others. And, this far into the 21st century, we still lack a ‘Theory of Water’ properties that completely removes it from the ‘miraculous’ category.
Think of that: Science still cannot fully describe the molecule that makes Life possible!!!
There is a considerable fraction of Christians who interpret Genesis 2,3 as A&E eating from the forbidden Tree of Knowledge, which constituted Original Sin. IMHO, this constitutes the Ultimate Insult to a Creator who is All-Loving and All-Knowing. To put it another way: The attempt to use “scientific analysis” to support a Catholic’s belief in transubstantiation, is pure folly, regardless of the stated ‘outcome’. Does it lead to Salvation? To a life’s purpose?
As many a scientist before me, I realize that in pushing forward the frontiers of knowledge, I need Faith. I need to examine the work of my predecessors to see that it warrants a Faith that allows me to ‘stand on the shoulders of Giants’ fo move forward.
Wishing you the Blessings of Faith,
Thank you for the kind response Al. Your message really underlines your study experience.
I don’t want to make anyone of you to believe in miracles, it is only a part of my belief that has its roots in Jesus Christ and his Gospel and not in healings or miracles. I was just saying that Catholic Church has scientific committees that analyze all supposed supernatural things and if a random fool goes to a priest saying “he sees the Virgin Mary” or something like that is before all checked in a psychiatric way than proceeding in the specific event…
Regarding your original question I would ask what truth you have in mind. There is the what-truth of science and then there is the how-truth regarding the way human beings value and conduct their lives. Regarding the empirical truth of science there is ultimately only one correct answer even when that one truth is that sometimes light behaves as particles and others as a wave. But when it comes to the how truth of humanity the answers don’t cash out into ‘what’s’. In fact that truth is not even fully expressible in any fully complete manner. Efforts to express that truth are dependent on culture, language and each person’s experience. The adequacy with which what can be said will be found to approximate the truth must therefore be approximate and relative.
So when you ask if or why Christianity should be the truth you must recognize that you’re no longer operating in the empirical realm of what where the truth is confirmable in interpersonal ways. The mindsets and expectations appropriate to that question are different. Better to ask if Christianity is true for you and the community in which you live. If you decide some expressions are particularly apt, don’t rush to extrapolate too widely about who will share your appraisal.
Ultimately we are the weak link. The truth is larger than us. Whatever we manage to say of it will fall short. But if some ways to say it strike gold for you, go with it. But never think of it as your possession, it will never be reducible to a concept. You may have to go on refashioning the words with which you keep it alive for you. Fortunately as Christians you have an enormous book of rich stories which give you many places to take hold, perhaps enough to last a lifetime?
I agree with you.
Before making questions about if God exists/Christianity is the truth/is God omnipotent…
We have before to do an act of humility on facts. These facts are summarized by Hawking
“We are just an advanced breed of monkeys on a minor planet of a very average star. But we can understand the Universe. That makes us something very special.”
He gave the answer to this as a coincidence formed over billions of years, I call it God’s plan on humanity … And this doesn’t mean that we are the only species that can understand the universe! I am strongly convinced that other intelligent forms of life exist(and have existed) in the universe, making the same questions of us and trying to find God in their way! How we are small and insignificant amazes me
That is a poor analogy. The universe isn’t anywhere near so fine tuned as that. 99.5% of planets in our region of space cannot support life, and there are many regions of the universe where life is impossible. Besides even where it is possible it is not like the place is fine tuned to support life, it is life which adapts to fit the environment not the other way around.
I do think God designed the the laws of the universe to support life, but that is a very different thing from saying that God designed the universe itself (its contents) to support life.