Back to Series Index >>
This is part of a series of notes in response to "Why I Became an Atheist" by John W. Loftus
Chapter Eight: The Poor Evidence of Historical Evidence
The primary thing that stood out to me in this chapter was John's point about basing eternal life on historical claims and occurrences. It is, indeed interesting to ponder that Christianity bases its morality and theology on ancient events. I would say, however, that theology is set in stone for the most part while any changes in historical facts simply affects which portions are figurative of literal. I can't imagine a discovery other than the near-impossible which would ever actually prove Christian theology wrong. One would need to unearth Jesus' skeleton and happen to have his dental records or uncover some other ancient text completely refuting another indispensable theological tenant. I don't see this happening.
Even still, it is interesting to ponder what else in life of such great value we rest upon history alone. It is notoriously accepted that history is shaky. We can know with reasonable certainty certain things, but far more are unbelievably outside the realm of confidence. It was once pointed out to me that pages upon pages have been spent on trying to determine whether or not Thomas Jefferson 1) had an affair with Sally Hemmings, and 2) if so, whether any children resulted. This was about 200 years ago. No one would be their life on the results of such historical endeavors, yet about 2 billion people worldwide base their eternal lives on the historical truth about Jesus as presented by Christianity.
One of my "common sense" objections to god is that he would create an environment in which the only way to know him is by examining poorly translated and cobbled together scriptures and trusting that at one time and in one place he revealed himself through a man. It's not that I can't fathom god being a man; surely, this is one of Christianity's proudest and most cherished beliefs: that god would take on humanity and become one of us. It's not that this is impossible, it's just that for a timeless, spaceless, all-powerful, all-knowing creator of the universe to leave such an obscure and uncertain portrait of himself for man to discover and attempt to apprehend. Many point to the origin of the universe as indicative of a creator since it seems to require only someone who is cosmically great in power and outside of our time continuum to have done such a thing. How much more, then, should we expect from the one act in history that Christians believe to signify their god's intimate revelation of himself to man. If something like the origin of the universe or fine tuning give us evidence of a deistic portrait of god, how much more should we expect from his one-on-one revelation of himself? Surely it would be helpful to have something testable and observable by all…which would also be eternal.
It is a puzzling ordeal that most (all?) major religions intersect time and space with a somewhat "revelation-bearing" individual rather than any one of them truly having something unbelievable unique about its nature to set it apart regarding how its teachings were disseminated. It's even more interesting to note the decline in religious variants being created. There seems to have been quite a plethora of pagan traditions and various speiritualities, then a very strong point of religious explosion with Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam and then somewhat of a hiatus until Luther followed only by what I would call "spititualities" such as Joseph Smith and L. Ron Hubbard. Indeed, there are many more, however none of them boasts something like a figure who beamed around the entire earth, who left an eternal pillar of flame or cloud behind as a reminder, who left behind stone tablets of commandments carved with a technology more advanced than any of the current technologies today, and so on. Given that god is not limited by time or space, it would seem that he is free to reveal himself in a way to make it truly obvious that his domain is not ours but is one in the heavens. And so here we are: incredible tails of deeds and occurrences left behind in history upon which we are requested to rest our eternal fates.
To Ch 9: Do Miracles Take Place? >>