Would any scientific discovery make you lose your faith?

Nope. I guess I was mistaken. We’re definitely saying something different.

Your second bullet point in your generalization seems to be relevant here…

As C.S. Lewis says in Mere Christianity - God likes matter. He invented it.

I never had any doubt about that! But I think you have indulged in a little black and white thinking which equated any view which differed from yours in the slightest as something contrary to 2000 years of Christian thinking and that is where I think you are grossly mistaken as can easily be demonstrated.

Indeed! Because they viewed matter as evil the Gnostics made God and the creator separate beings. But while I am quite sure that the spiritual and God who is spirit is greater than the physical, the physical universe is nevertheless something which God created for a good purpose and thus there is no cause to give any merit to the ideas of Docetism that Jesus did not have a natural, physical, material body let alone their really heretical idea that the sufferings of Christ were only apparent.

Jesus was fully 100% man and fully 100% God, though I do not buy into the typical enslavement of God to theology which equates being God with being unable to do anything which values anything more than power and control with a list of things which human beings can do but which God cannot do. The most important part of omnipotence is a power over Himself to be who and what He chooses to be. And thus I reject the effort of theologians to confine God to some nature they say He has and to strip God of abilities saying that God cannot change, or learn, or limit Himself, or choose not to know something, or to relinquish absolute control over anything in any way whatsoever.

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I suppose you’re correct in saying, in this case, I’m doing some black and white thinking. I believe that Jesus physically rose from the dead. I also believe that is precisely the argument that St. Paul is making in 1 Corinthians 15. It’s also his argument to the Greeks on Mars hill (Acts 17), at which the Greeks sneer. It’s the physical ressurection that Paul is speaking about and which causes the Greeks to sneer. However, We disagree on that. So it goes.

Likely we’ve kicked this around enough. I’ve appreciated the discussion.

Peace to you!

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And as I explained the problem is that there is more than one definition of the word “physical.”

  1. pertaining to the body as opposed to the mind.
  2. pertaining to laws of nature in science.

As a physicist the second definition is the one I have always used and thus the first definition was a bit of a surprise to me. And since my Bible is an RSV translation it was hard for me to understand why people were contradicting Paul who said the body of the resurrection was a spiritual body not a physical body. But other Bibles translate this as “natural body” instead.

So the problem seems to be that in 1 Cor 15, Paul uses both meanings of the word “physical” at the same time to say that Jesus was resurrected BODILY (one definition of physical) but not to a NATURAL (another definition of physical) body but to a spiritual body. If you insist on using “physical” in the second sense for the resurrection of Jesus then you directly contradict Paul who says it is not a physical natural body but a spiritual body. But in the first sense it is a physical resurrection because it is a bodily resurrection.

Yes, and it’s important to consider other scriptures. Important scriptures. Like the account of Easter Sunday.

Matthew 28:
After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. 2 And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. 4 For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men. 5 But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. 6 He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay.

So no body was found. No body was buried. The women were not able to prepare the body with spices, which was their original intention.

And historically, there is no tradition of returning to the tomb at a much later date to gather the bones of Jesus and place them in an ossuary (bone box), as was the practice of Jews at the time.

There are two ancient proposed sites for the resurrection: the Garden Tomb and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, both in Jerusalem. But neither one claims to have a body. This is significant, because soon the church went nuts over the relic cult–the veneration of physical remains, etc. of saints. These were incorporated into churches, and became important sites for pilgrimages. (Martin Luther wondered why 18 of the 12 apostles were buried in Spain alone!)

So if the church didn’t believe in a physical resurrection, wouldn’t you think that somebody would at least claim to have the remains of Jesus? (The Holy Grail notwithstanding.)

However, we do have the Eucharist, the Body and Blood of Christ!

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What about turning this question around? And asking a theists. What would shatter their faith in? The naturalism of isolation. In which they believe.

What would be required for atheists to acknowledge the possibility? Of God, like super intelligent beings in the heavens, who can intervene into human history on earth and manifest. Miraculous. Extraordinary events.

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This was interesting to me:
If god appeared on earth, would humanists believe he exists?

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They acknowledge the possibility all the time.

So the real question is, what would it take for them to believe? But since atheists come to believe all the time this is not such a difficult question. And no matter what they may say now about proof and objective evidence, that isn’t really where our beliefs come from. It is personal experience that really matters. So frankly all it would take, and many atheists will tell you this, is for God to introduce Himself to them. That suggests to me that the crucial question isn’t really what it will take for them to believe, but… does God want them to believe? Is it even in their best interest to believe? Is it in the best interest of the world for them to believe? If you really trust in God and believe that God knows what He is doing, what does this imply about the answers to these questions?

God did appear on the earth.

But I suppose what you really mean is… “Is there anything God can do to make humanists/atheists/naturalists believe He exists?” I think the answer is yes. Of course there is. I doubt He would even have to violate the laws of nature to do so.

But… if God did such a thing, would the world be a better place because of it?

I don’t think so.

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To summarize the position of the top replies (at least an upvote):

  • “Extraordinary claims requires extraordinary evidence” has to be the most overused phrase from their side. I feel like mostly it´s a copout to not engage with the currently available evidence in history or philosophy, though the rejection of the second fits to the commonly present
  • Scientism, the requirement of scientific proofs for a belief in god, which is, to put it in the nicest way possible, naive.
  • A real appearance, though not enough for some

However, I am not sure what that appearance could look like. We all know there are powerful illusions, and there are extraordinary magicians, there are powerful drugs and other things that can play tricks on the mind. I agree with Jason that it would take a bit more than an ‘appearance’ to convince me of the existence of a god, let alone of all the teachings and little details of how to please him. For example, if a big face appeared in the sky, would that really settle the question on transubstantiation? Or would that really tell us which positions it is ok to have sex in? Would that even tell us which god is the right one? Or if there are more gods in the sky?

Even if the appearance convinced me that something lives in the sky, it wouldn’t tell me anything on how to live my life or if there was an afterlife or anything else really, apart from that there is a big face in the sky.

or here

He/She would have to prove they are in fact god. Then answer for all of the evil they allowed.

In general there is conflating with other questions, although they don´t have anything to do with the fist questions. What does worship have to do with the pure existence?

Of course I don´t want to misrepresent their positions and I do agree that the objection that the currently available evidence may not be enough for some, but its also clear that there is a rejection from some to the idea of God in the first place and that people on either side (atheists and theists) have a significant emotional attachment to their position. And sentences like

therefore every theology has been carefully constructed to not require evidence.

are of course nonsense. In general I don´t know if those people are really aware for the reasons of theists to believe in God

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It was always unclear to me who needs to supply the burden of proof in these cases. The article’s author complains the burden is unnecessarily high from skeptics. It’s one thing I think to establish that someone named Jesus was crucified to go to everything in the Gospels happened exactly as recorded from external evidence alone. I don’t have a problem to believe say Jesus turned water into wine but to take that claim beyond faith requires lots of evidence that doesn’t exist.

One thing I have been turned off from is virtually all Apologetics- I do think faith plays a bigger role than many care to admit as many claim that evidence is on their side and reason actually gets you places. Maybe some think it does, but I no longer think that’s the case. Not to mention it is almost a requirement to misunderstand science to do the work of Apologetics.

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They are aware of the reasons that many theists give for believing in God. And to them those reasons sound either very lame or personally irrelevant. But of course they haven’t heard everyone’s reasons and some are quite different than the usual. But like I said above, the real reasons for our beliefs is personal experience, so even hearing the best reasons is not going to change their mind.

That is easy! The burden of proof is ALWAYS on the person who expects other people to agree with them. That is implicit in the very meaning of the word “proof.”

I am not expecting anyone to know every reason from the opposition, this would be an impossible task. Especially in America it seems to me that Christianity is seen as represented by the fundamentalists and their arguments are therefor the whole arguments for the christian faith. In Western Europe we don´t really have any fundamentalism but it is common belief that Christianity is solely based on faith alone and has no supporting evidence, so they get to the same conclusion. In either case, when confronted with e.g. historical or philosophical evidence it should at least refute the claim, that there is no (good/sufficient) evidence at all. And I agree with your objection that our believes are based on personal experience, but this case is similar to biases, if you are aware of them, it shoud be easier for you to try to change them.

I do have a problem with that belief as you it would raise to me questions about the teachings of such an action as it would imply a God that shares the materialistic view of humans to declare a fine wine to be more valuable than the water of ritual purification. If it were so, why did John - and why do we still - use water for baptism? To me the water if ritual cleansing is the most valuable drink I can ever receive and if the miracle of understanding this valuable first lesson is missed on us we have no chance to understand Jesus at all. Consider if you were at Canaan that day and you were given this purest of waters that you could get ( the only water allowed into those sacred vessels) with the words to honour the groom for not pretending to be wealthy and stretching the wine but serving the most valuable drink at the end, -the water that was born to become wine- you would have a reason to follow that man. I would not follow a teacher for creating a fake reality to hush up the fact that someone could not afford to buy plenty of wine to entertain as if it was something to be ashamed of (realized how he rebukes his mother about it?) because I do not God that would change reality in line with our materialistic expectations, in fact I would warn people who do follow such an image of God to be careful. Perhaps someone can convince me otherwise and explain why wine should be more valuable than the water of purification. So far nobody has given me a coherent reasoning for it.

In a time were resurrection is a scientific cloning procedure to bring extinct species back to life and virgin birth is a service the NHS offers to same sex couples to have their wish turn flesh we should reconsider how we look at Jesus and his role in our understanding of God and what we believe his story means, e.g. if we want to look at it from the point of view of a materialist or from a theological perspective. Unfortunately those two points of view are incompatible.

To me, understanding Jesus is a miracle in its own right, as is the birth of a child or the love we can feel for one another that is not of the physical kind. Miracles that defy the laws of reality would be incompatible with the God of love and logic that I believe in. If a God puts reality under a law that is not good enough that he would want to obey it himself would deny him omniscience and omnipotence. We have plenty of people here on earth unable to follow their own rules, but we refer to that as a mark of impotence, not omnipotence.

An person that only believes in a thing by having proof for it is clearly having a problem, as it is the proof that terminates a belief by turning it into knowledge. If you form a belief based on proof you would be unable to gain knowledge. Calling oneself a the “brights” is really not advised in such situation, but it would be advisable to check if such incoherent argumentation might be the result of an underlying religiophobia.

It is reason that get’s you places, as without it you cannot sustain a cognitive process. Faith is based on reason as it is based on reasoning evidence, because it is evidence that is the cause for a belief to exist. In that context it is useful to have a logically coherent definition of faith. I suggest:
Faith: to trust in something to be true in the absence of proof.

If people confuse evidence with proof they are clearly not intellectually savvy, let alone understand science, as the only proof we can obtain in science is that something is wrong. All the data that I can gather to substantiate my thesis are evidence for it to be potentially true, not proof. It only needs one experiment to prove me wrong, which is why the most important parts of an experiment are the controls.

Dare to explain how you come to faith without evidence, in fact how you entertain any cognitive process without evidence.

Atheism in its modern form is often based on a position of ignorance, and there is no point to debate those who publicly declare their ignorance. If you claim that you can not believe in God because there is no evidence for God you declare that you dismiss all the evidence that exists, be it witness statements or rational arguments.

For any proposition that has not been proven you have no chance than to either form a belief about and either to believe it to be true or false, or to know what the truth position of the proposition is by means of proof or special revelation. If so you would declare either of the two, but to say that you cannot form a belief about the proposition because there is no evidence for it is a claim of ignorance. To debate someone who declares that they ignore you makes no sense. Best to just give them an ironic comment that you accept their ignorance and pray that they may start to see the unconditional love they experience and for healing from their religiophobia.

You’re still calling atheists ignorant here - which as a blanket statement is a falsehood. There are very well-informed atheists who patiently interact here who have seen and discussed all the evidence believers have on offer. They simply don’t think it sufficiently compelling as evidence. Just as we expect them to respect us here by not always attacking our theism at every turn, so they should be afforded the respect of granting they are every bit as intelligent and informed (or more) than many of the rest of us here.

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Wine was often the safest thing to drink back then. And Jesus chose wine to represent His blood.

As I said above the biggest threats to my beliefs come not from science but from religion. But to substantiate this as well as examining how something could be a threat, we just need to examine my list of reasons for believing. Though not all of these reasons are equal, so I will follow this list by giving them a percentage importance.

Next let’s rate these reasons with regards to importance by giving a percentage of how much a failure to satisfy this reason would undermine my belief.

  1. 90%
  2. 95%
  3. 65%
  4. 50%
  5. 80%

So let’s take these one by one:

  1. So if religion decides that the observable physical universe is all there is then I wouldn’t see much point to it. This might seem unlikely except someone on the forum recently suggested this very thing, though I am not entirely sure that this was his intention rather than my misunderstanding.
  2. I am reminded of a book series, “Repairman Jack” by F. Paul Wilson, which has a rather interesting theology in it. The earth is involved in a fight over territory and the current owner (which it calls the ally) doesn’t care anything about us really except how we might be useful in keeping control of this portion of the universe. I cannot say that such a being would inspire much regard on my part, which is not to say that he wouldn’t have my support as the lesser of two evils. So if a religion pushes a God which isn’t good and thus does not provide us with a faith that existence is even worthwhile, then I would certainly prefer even atheism over a religion like that.
  3. This is the only one where scientific discovery is even involved. Without quantum physics, it is a bit difficult for me to see the relevance of God and religion to the living of our lives or even the meaningfulness of our lives altogether, frankly. Religion could also contradict this in a number of ways such as seeing the future as already written or in a milder way by insisting on interactions with the supernatural beyond what quantum physics would allow.
  4. This is very similar to number one. The limitations of logic are hard to ignore, so it seems that the only way of conceiving an alternative has to do with the mundane reasons which are defined by the physical necessities. It is conceivable that a religion might suggest something beyond the observable universe but still doesn’t see anything which give us any more than the mundane requirements of physical life and in that case I wouldn’t see much more value in this religion than in the case of number 1.
  5. A religion which cannot acknowledge or encompass the diversity of religious beliefs in the world and thus has to look at everyone else as deluded, would tend to look pretty far fetched to me.

Fortunately, unlike science, diversity look like an inherent feature of religion. So in reality, these possibilities for religion just become the criterion by which I would reject them and the beliefs that don’t fit the reasons why I believe or see any value in religion at all.

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“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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