Mockery and History

It is truthfully a very difficult task to try reaching those who enjoy their complete ignorance where history and archaeology concern the record of Jesus Christ. Unfortunately for these atheists, it is their complete disregard of truth, intellect and lack of comprehension that makes them revert to base mockery and ridicule. What they wish to do is remain the mocking fools they are. Sad. It is a waste of time to alot of people  in giving them a chance at dialogue –  however, I wanted to give them enough information that they might just realize their mocking assumptions fail in light of history and facts.
*I start at my reply to the skeptic’s denial of the birthplace of Nazareth and that by this ignorant assumption was that Jesus was not a historical person.  (The responses are copied and pasted exactly as was typed by my  contenders, but make note* that I have removed their cuss words for obvious reasons of minors who may read this.)

  • MOCKER A: The street preacher seems like a really nice, genuine person. I like him, but really, everything he said has been taken apart and disproven so many times. For instance, don’t scholars agree now that Nazareth wasn’t around during Jesus’ lifetime? He should critically examine everything he is preaching. I always wonder how spreading misinformation could possibly be doing God’s work? Atheists and Christians really need to open up more respectful dialog like this video. We would all benefit.
  • ME: Nazareth was outside of the walls of Yaphia off the main road to Sephoris. There is no scholar in higher academia who doubts the existence of Nazareth. Even Josephus refers to it (Yaphia). You are right, God doubters and Christians need to be respectful, however there are answers for the skeptic if the Christian is intellectually engaged in sound scholarship and doctrine. Faith should never be blind – either by believers or nonbelievers.
  • MOCKER B: No, Josephus does NOT refer to it in his listing of towns and cities in the area. It is mentioned in John but when was John written? Using the Bibble to prove the Bibble? Seriously? Fail!
  • MOCKER A: Josephus was born about 60 years after Christ’s supposed death. FAIL!!!!!!!!
  • ME: Do you know anything about Ancient Historiography and Archaeology? Do you know that scholars do not doubt Titus Flavius Josephus lived between 37AD and circa 100AD – the meaning of which, Josephus lived in the era of the Jesus timeline. Even so, the archaeological evidence of Nazareth is fact. Based upon the evidence, you need to rethink your inadequate position.
  • MOCKER B: He was born after the supposed death of Yeshua bar Yoseph so he could not have known him. The Jewish chronicles that have come down to us do not, (apparently), contain ANY reference to such a famous and miracle wielding Rabbi wandering the land preaching to multitudes in the 30s AD. How odd! Why would they omit a famous person like that from their carefully kept records? Oh, that would be because he never existed. He’s a myth, a phantasm, a collation of various people and gods from that time.
  • ME: The Gospel accounts have not been refuted by history, but rather, confirmed by at least 17 non-biblical sources. This historical data is contemporary/within the era of the early Yeshua community. Josephus’ accounts do *confirm Jesus = his life, teachings, claims, and death, plus the report of his resurrection appearances. Josephus also references the brother of Christ, James, and the account of his death by stoning. Other Jewish sources for Jesus Christ include The Talmud and Toledoth Jeshu.
  • ATHEIST: Josephus was still not a contemporary.. So all he had to go on was hear say and stories as well.. And many of the stories about Jesus accredited to him has now been deemed fake.. The only place where a Jesus is mentioned in what appears to be genuine is a sentence or two in the context of Jesus’ brother.. Nothing about his teachings or any supernatural claims..
  • ME: Not only is Josephus 1st Century,he is a reliable Roman historian. Said debate calls into question certain passages of his “Testimonium Flavianum” that seemingly are later interpolation. In summary, without those phrases, we still glean: Jesus is James brother, was wise and virtuous, crucified under Pilate, claims of surprising feats, induced a large following, reports of his resurrection on the third day and attached Messianic belief. Overall there is no textural evidence against this account.
  • ATHEIST: And all you are left with is still a claim from a man who had hear say as a source.. Is hear say reliable evidence for something?
  • ME: Not only do we have eyewitness accounts within the Gospel records, early creeds and worship, we have an entire movement within the Jewish community that was recorded historically. All confirmed by non-biblical accounts and by enemy attestation. There is no competing claims that Jesus didn’t exist, or that these supernatural claims about him were untrue, even if explained away by ‘sorcery’. A surprising amount of info about Jesus is drawn from historians contemporary to him or lived soon after.
  • ATHEIST: We have eyewitness accounts? That is the first I’ve heard of this.. Where can I find these?
    So do you consider eyewitness accounts as reliable evidence for supernatural events?
    Who are these other contemporaries that you are talking about?
  • ME: Clearly the weight of sound scholarship rests on evidence. It is all evidence. The same, in fact, that could be presented into a court of Law and judged accordingly. When external events corroborate eyewitness testimony, it is taken as key evidence. We have the same number of Non-Christian sources for Jesus as the Roman Emperor contemporary with him.What we see here is an event in history. An event so extraordinary, it is documented in official government records.
  • ATHEIST: One thing is to claim that someone lived and that we might have evidence for that.. Another thing is claiming supernatural events.. As someone said – “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence”.. So having an eye witness can never prove anything supernatural ever happened. And what we have is not an eyewitness account, it is documents from someone else.. Hear say.. What does your court of law think about hear say?
    Again, what are these eyewitness accounts you keep mentioning?
  • ME: What do you mean we don’t have eyewitness accounts? Most certainly we do! Not only do the Gospels reliably record early testimony of the first witnesses, also John who records in his words as an eyewitness, we also have the epistles written by the likes of James, Jesus’ own brother, as well as Paul -Jewish anti-Christian who converts after seeing the risen Christ – Paul even passes on a very early creed that is at ground zero of 3-5 yrs post-resurrection. The critical scholars all accept Paul.
  • ATHEIST: And when are all of the written?
  • ME: In ancient historiography, the earliest and best attested is of course best – which makes the NT manuscripts the best in comparison to any other ancient writ. No historian doubts Homer, Herodotus, Plato, or Caesar etc – yet the closet they can come to the 5,500+ New Testament manuscripts – is Homer’s Iliad at 800BC ranking in with 643 copies, and the earliest copies are some 400 yrs later. Compare that to the usual 1000-1350 year time gap with only 7 to 10 copies for ancient literature.
  • ME: The NT was written well within the lives of the eyewitnesses abt 50-100AD. Mark is the earliest Gospel and Paul predates Mark – timeline c 20-25 yrs from Christ. Creeds are earlier still. Even skeptical scholars agree that Paul is the author of 7-8 of the 13 epistles. (*Skeptical scholars include atheists, agnostic and non-believers.) Early dating is given to Paul – example, Paul’s letters written to the Romans, the Corinthians and the Galatians were written in the period between 48AD and 60AD.
  • ATHEIST: So the earliest accounts of this were written down 20 years after his death? Well, that seems like a rather large delay if you want to remember something.. But for some reason, even then, they were able to quote Jesus to the word? Riiiight..But again.. Eye witness accounts can and will never prove the existence of something supernatural🙂
  • ME:On the contrary, for the ancient historian that is an extraordinary timeline – no other ancient manuscript can match it! It must also be remembered that The Gospels were written as the eyewitnesses were dying and persecution was the threat for every follower of Christ. The Jews were an oral cultural by tradition, as the creeds and accounts of Christ were first known collectively. The Yeshua community, if you will remember, was a Jewish one. Early creeds in Paul’s epistles date within the 30s.
  • ATHEIST: Josephus was still not a contemporary.. So all he had to go on was hear say and stories as well.. And many of the stories about Jesus accredited to him has now been deemed fake.. The only place where a Jesus is mentioned in what appears to be genuine is a sentence or two in the context of Jesus’ brother.. Nothing about his teachings or any supernatural claims..
  • ME: Not only is Josephus 1st Century,he is a reliable Roman historian. Said debate calls into question certain passages of his “Testimonium Flavianum” that seemingly are later interpolation. In summary, without those phrases, we still glean: Jesus is James brother, was wise and virtuous, crucified under Pilate, claims of surprising feats, induced a large following, reports of his resurrection on the third day and attached Messianic belief. Overall there is no textural evidence against this account.
  • ATHEIST: That is not what I understand from researching the claims that Josephus corroborated jeezuz as the christ. As far as I am aware, having removed the added chwistian bullsh__, we are left with, “There once was a dude called jeezuz”, end of.
  • ME: Then I would address your knowledge of Josephus as a first century historian and address your studies in ancient Jewish literature. Clearly, for you there is no academic research in historiography, only your misinformed assertions.
  •  ATHEIST: No, I would ask you to cite your sources, the seventeen non-biblical sources would be a good start. All such sources I have heard of were written long after the events they are supposed to support and are therefore worthless. If such sources existed and confirmed the godspells as true, there would be a massive shift to ‘chwistianity’. No such shift has occurred. I wonder why?
  • ME: Unfortunately, such sophomoric attempts at digs toward Christianity often matches a dull intellect…however, I will try your understanding of history by asking if you know what contends to be *early for Ancient Historiography? Not only that, but evidence for such a “massive shift” might entail the split of history into two eras -say, before Christ and after Christ — And, let’s not forget the revolutionary, permanent change of two profound cultures: 1st century Judaism and the Roman Empire.
  •  ATHEIST: No, I am perfectly adequate in my higher intellect, thank you. I just enjoy taking the piss out of idiots who still need an invisible friend over the age of five. I’m not talking about the ‘massive shift’ to the use of anno domini to denote after the mythical jeezuz is supposed to have sacrificed himself to himself. I’m talking about the here and now. If the evidence you pretend actually existed, there would NOW be a massive shift to the true religion of the zombie Rabbi.
  •  ATHEIST: Sorry but the phrase ‘intellectual chwistian’ is an hilarious oxymoron.
  • ME: No, but you seem to think so. Then again, I would not suppose you get around much to Oxford or Cambridge.
  • ATHEIST: Yes, it is, just like ‘intelligent design’ is pure idiocy. Been to both Oxford and Cambridge, nice towns. I can only imagine you there on a tourist bus going “Oh gee! Would you look at that! Elmer, take a picture!”
  • ME: Sorry, you’ll need a better zinger that that. Professor Elmer takes horrible pictures.

As you can see, it is no easy task to have a comfortable discussion of some pretty heavy facts when confronting mockers and their foolishness about the historical record and Jesus Christ. When it degrades to such a level that you are just a target, it is of little use to try and carry on any rational discussion and sometimes it is better to let humor lighten the angry atheist’s attacks. Of course, while I wish to relay much needed answers to the skeptic, my mission is not one to convert. Remember, we can only witness. To convert is to transform – that is not what Christians are called to do nor can do. This is the power of the Holy Spirit. As for spreading the Gospel of Christ, that is spreading the Truth of God’s Word to the world and it will never cease. Those who have ears let them hear.  I can only pray their minds might be open and they mature enough to find that the facts of history are there to investigate.

~ Dragonfly in the Rain ~

June 12 2012

The Universe has a Cause

On purely empirical terms, the supernatural Creator God is rejected by such God-doubters a priori with closed minds against the supernatural. Therefore, the atheist often declares an absence of evidence. But, it is actually an absence of science. Because we do know that the evidence is there pointing to something more than science can explain.

Empirical science cannot adequately address nor explain everything that we do know to exist and that does have reality, including the mind – and the very fact we can do science with minds that work according to a Universe such as this, and that we can comprehend it, is a miracle itself. However, science cannot account for the mind, let alone how life began and the blueprint for life as found in the complex coded and intelligent language of DNA; Not to mention love, or mathematical ideas, or history, the ego, emotional attachments, meaning, etc. Thus, science cannot explain the all. Given that, the physical world in which we live is only understood in relative terms of science. What this means is simply that science cannot account for what is non-material.

We can posit, however, through the confirmation of science, that the Universe had a beginning and therefore has a cause – because everything that begins to exist has a cause.

Thus, I would ask you what caused the Universe to begin to exist?

Here is a dialogue with a few Youtubers that I had recently.  (*The spelling and grammar of the responders are copied and pasted as written from YouTube):

  • YT: “If everything that exists requires a cause, then your god requires a cause… Who created your god?”
  • ME: “First of all, your question assumes God is created, but I am not positing a created god in the equation. Science dictates that causation produces phenomenon. The effect is the Universe that begain to exist. I am positing the Biblical Creator God of all creation. This is a non material mind, the First Cause, eternal, unchanging and powerful. The Creator by definition is not created.”
  • YT: ” No no.. You say that all things must have a creator.. Therefore your god must have a creator.. If you we say that all things must not have a creator, then your god is not necessary..”
  • ME: “All things that begin to exist must have a cause. That is the law of Causality, as we find in Science. God did not begin to exist. To have a First Cause, that cause must be Necessary (noncontingent). Therefore, there is a distinction between what is created and the Creator. You may also say that all finite beings are limited or contingent – they necessitate a cause. God is the First Cause.”

There was another YouTuber who wanted to erase the First Cause altogether and dived right into the typical multiverse arguement, to which I replied:

  • ME: “Even if there was a multiverse, there would still be the same question. What is the Necessary Cause? Everything that begins to exist has to have a cause. The Universe is not eternal and therefore has a Necessary Cause. This Cause must be Spirit, Eternal, Powerful and Unchanging.    Since there is something rather than nothing, we must ask what is this Eternal Necessary Cause? The believer answers – God. The more we know of the complexity of Life, the more we see it lead to this Creator God.”
  • YT2: “why do you assert that the universe is not eternal? that assertion has no backing other than your desire for it to be true, as far as I can see”
  • ME: ” ‘The conclusion of this lecture is that the universe has not existed forever. Rather, the universe, and time itself, had a beginning in the Big Bang, about 15 billion years ago.’ Stephen Hawking, The Beginning of Time                                                                                                                                                   Don’t take my word for it, not that it’s wishful thinking or anything…”

*Then another YouTuber chimed in:

  • YT3: “Let’s take it to a new level…What if there is no universe, but just your imagination? How can you prove that you’re not the only existing piece of intelligence in an endless dream? lol “
  • ME: “Then that would be: Solipsism, the philosophical idea that only one’s own mind is sure to exist. Of course, that is easily disproven once the solipsist is placed in the middle of the busy highway.”

Yet another YouTuber pipes up:

  • YT4: “There is actual science that proves that other galaxies exist. There is no evidence of God. Period. The problem is not that God existing seems surreal, it is that God existing has no actual evidence to stand upon.”
  • ME: “But, what is your evidence that atheism is true and accurate?”
  • YT4: “The lack of proof for any sort of “God”, “miracle” or even any sort of “divine intervention” is quite telling why Atheism is the more logical choice. There is no evidence, thus we don’t believe. It’s simple.  The fact that you want “evidence” of Atheism being accurate implies that you don’t have any idea what Atheism actually is, when it’s just the non-belief in any supernatural power governing our universe.”
  • ME: “On the contrary, atheism believes out of nothing came the Universe and thus we exist. But out of nothing comes nothing; Takes more faith for an atheist to hold to that unscientific position than it is to believe in a Creator Mind. Thus, to say you do not believe there is a God is technically *not a statement about lack of God’s existence but about your subjective belief in something other than God. So, if you believe in a Godless universe, what evidence is there for your belief?”

Needless to say, the atheist had no answer for his faith.

Now, in presenting these parcels of Youtube wisdom, let me rightly point out that I have no idea who is on the other side of that computer chat. I have had various intellects and various replies on a variety of topics. Of course, it never fails to amaze me that there is a disconnect between the athiest’s own belief system as that of a faith. Here is another example:

  • YT Atheist: “Atheism is not a belief. It is the lack of a very specific belief and nothing more.”
  • ME: “On the contrary, atheism believes out of nothing came the Universe and thus we exist. More faith for an atheist to hold to that unscientific position than it is to believe in a Creator God.”
  • YT Atheist: “No, that would be the currently held scientific theory of the origin of the universe. I could just as reasonably ask you where god came from? Nothing perhaps? Atheists don’t have any beliefs about the origin of the universe, they are often interested in science looks for evidence of its origin though. It has nothing to do with faith. We are perfectly ok with not knowing until we do have some evidence instead of crediting it all to a god you have no evidence for.”
  • ME: “Without God, atheists believe that nothing created the Universe. But, as Julie Andrews sang “From Nothing comes Nothing”. And it has everything to do with faith. Atheists deny God because of their say so. It is mere conjecture, mere opinion. There is no evidence to believe in nothing – because there IS something. The Universe does exist. So, the atheist has no belief that God exists, but where’s your proof for this? Therefore, you have faith in nothing, yet there is something. So you are wrong.”
  • YT Atheist: “Atheists do not believe that the universe came from nothing. Atheists are perfectly fine with not knowing the actual origin of the universe. Science doesn’t know either, they have theories but no proof. You can not prove that something does not exist – you can’t prove the negative. Because there is no evidence that god exists I chose not to believe he does. Where is your proof that god does exist? The existence of the universe is not proof of god.”
  • ME: “You are agnostic then, without knowledge? The atheist who positively affirms God’s nonexistence is making a truth claim. So okay, you are saying: I *choose not to believe in God. Technically this is not a statement about lack of God’s existence, but about your subjective *belief that God does not. Without evidence for said belief, this is a mere preference, an opinion, a choice. It IS a belief system and you have a great philosophic difficulty of proving a negative – ie. God does not exist.”

So, now we turn to the ultimate metaphysical question: “Why is there something rather than nothing?”  – Gottfried Leibniz (1646-1716) German philosopher and mathematician

If the Universe had a beginning, we have reason to ask: what is the Cause?

The Universe just popping out of nowhere and without a cause? But, this makes no logical sense – it is not a rational or reasonable position to hold. In light of scientific facts and data, it is not even logical and no astrophysicist believes the Universe is eternal, but that it had a beginning.

There are only two possible choices for the fact the Universe came into being, and that is either from nothing or from super nature  -ie. God.
The former flies in the face of science. The latter, like love, is beyond science.

“Our new picture is more akin to the traditional metaphysical picture of creation out of nothing, for it predicts a definite beginning to events in time, indeed a definite beginning to time itself.” ~ Astrophysicists, John Barrow and Joseph Silk: The Left Hand of Creation

This ‘traditional metaphysical picture of creation’ is, of course, the biblical depiction of divinity.

This is a Super Nature we are talking about. This is God we are talking about. A Creator. An intelligence. A Mind. A Designer.

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”  ~ Genesis 1:1

~ Dragonfly in the Rain ~
June 12 2012

Answering YouTube

I don’t try to ‘pick a fight’. I don’t struggle to be noticed. However, there comes a time in every Christian’s life that our beliefs are challenged. This can be as simple as a Jehovah’s Witness at our door (which, actually isn’t so simple if you’ve ever dealt in a biblical discussion with one) or a barrage of loaded questions that are unfairly designed to paint the Christian as a lunatic and a non-thinker.  Even given that, Christians are called to have reasons for our faith. Belief isn’t a stand alone concept, no matter how hard the atheist tries to construct it that way so he can better knock it down. No, rather, reasonable faith is evidential, not blind.

So what does the Christian have for her defense of Christ?  Well, she must be prepared in season and out. After all, Christ followers are disciples of the Lord Jesus, and it is we who the world looks to for examples of Christ. Thus, we are called to bear up under close, and often, critical scrutiny of an ever watching world. Even more, this is directed of us, as found in 1 Peter 3:15 – We are called to give an answer to everyone who asks the reason for the hope we have and to do this in gentleness and respect.

Well, it’s this last bit that gets frustrating when under attack. Like Saint Peter himself, at times I do struggle with my zealous passion for the Truth. Passion for Truth and Justice in an of itself is not a bad thing.  However, under constant attack it is fair to say that Christians, like myself, are frail, imperfect human beings and we can be provoked to anger as well as anyone else. It is this remaining in gentleness and respect bit that does prove a challenge to me as I deal with those who have a smear campaign against my Lord and against my faith. Yet, there is such a thing as righteous anger, and there are times when I feel just downright righteously angry. Understand, that doesn’t mean it is self-righteous, nor does that mean I’m going for a smack down – but, it does mean that I’m frustrated with the gulliable, the misled, the ignorant, and those plain mean God-doubters who are sometimes just plain insulting. It tends to become infuriating sometimes, and yet,  I think this is when Jesus said to turn to the other cheek.

I have found a ministry of sorts in ‘going into battle’ on the internet and coming against some tough, and not so tough, opposition to my faith. In fact, in answering YouTube and Facebook challenges,  I’ve come up against some very disparaging commentators attacking faith, Christianity, God, Jesus Christ and the Bible. Not only has this been a great opportunity to share the Gospel with others, but it has continued to strengthen my ever present reminder to contend for the Truth. Even in the face of stalwart confrontation, there are times I feel I am merely answering echoes with no one to hear. However, for those who truly wish to know the answers, I want to assure the honest skeptic that there are answers.

~Dragonfly in the Rain~

June 12 2012

~ANSWERING ECHOES AND THE CHRISTIAN MIND~

I am a Christ follower. My hope in this blog is to record some of my experiences with seekers, God-doubters, cultists, and crazies in my struggle for Christ to be redeemed from cultural misrepresentations, common misunderstandings and counterfeits. For the intelligent and honest skeptic, there will always be questions. After all, how does one learn if not to question what one does not yet understand?  And yet, sometimes answering critics’ objections to faith is much like answering echoes that double and redouble endlessly without being heard, and yet, I continue to answer because there are answers.