Last time, as we looked at the GII list of ten loaded "switch brands of faith" questions used to challenge the Christian faith, we saw that five of them were based on forms of the problem of evils, while failing to acknowledge how this problem has been cogently addressed by philosophers and theologians such as Plantinga.
: Why does God demand the death of so many innocent people in the Bible?
4: Why does the Bible contain so much anti-scientific nonsense?
5: Why is God such a huge proponent of slavery in the Bible?
7: Why didn't any of Jesus' miracles in the Bible leave behind any evidence?8: How do we explain the fact that Jesus has never appeared to you? 9 – Why would Jesus want you to eat his body and drink his blood? It sounds totally grotesque, doesn't it? Why would a[n] all-powerful God want you to do something that, in any other context, sounds like a disgusting, cannibalistic, satanic ritual?
We may properly demand adequate testimony to matters of fact or reality, but we may not sweep such away and demand arbitrarily more through selective hyperskepticism. Worse, were Jesus to appear to one of these dismissive skeptics, doubtless he would want to brush it aside as a hallucination or a bad dream or something like that.
John 6:30 So [the people] said to [Jesus], “Then what sign do you do, that we may see and believe you? What work do you perform? 31 Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’”
32 Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” 34 They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.”
35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. 36 But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe.
37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. 40 For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”
41 So the Jews grumbled about him, because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” 42 They said, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?”
43 Jesus answered them, “Do not grumble among yourselves. 44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. 45 It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me- 46 not that anyone has seen the Father except he who is from God; he has seen the Father. 47 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. 50 This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”
52 The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”
53 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. 55 For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. 56 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. 57 As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread3 the fathers ate and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.”
59 Jesus said these things in the synagogue, as he taught at Capernaum. [ESV]
When we see the notion that the Bible is full of anti-science nonsense, that is little more than a hot-tempered dismissal of the miraculous, and the concept that God is Creator and Lord, before whom we will account. We already know from the first two responses (1, 2) that miracles credibly do occur today in answer to prayer in the name of Jesus, have similarly credibly occurred across time, and in the days in which the scriptures were written.
Similarly, apart from anti-supernaturalist prejudice, there is nothing anti-scientific in the concept that God is Creator. (If you want to look at issues of origins, you may find here on in context helpful.)
First, let us look at the emblem used by the antislavery societies on both sides of the Atlantic:
|Source: BBC, fair use|
What I find astonishing is that the usual analyses try to present every nuance of context and humanitarian appeal, usually with a veneer of scorn for a "paternalistic" and passive attitude, while overlooking the most obvious fact of all, the source of the motto. To wit:
Philemon 1: 10 I appeal to you for my child, Onesimus, whose father I became in my imprisonment. 11 (Formerly he was useless to you, but now he is indeed useful to you and to me.)
12 I am sending him back to you, sending my very heart.
13 I would have been glad to keep him with me, in order that he might serve me on your behalf during my imprisonment for the gospel, 14 but I preferred to do nothing without your consent in order that your goodness might not be by compulsion but of your own accord.
15 For this perhaps is why he was parted from you for a while, that you might have him back forever, 16 no longer as a slave but more than a slave, as a beloved brother-especially to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord.
17 So if you consider me your partner, receive him as you would receive me. 18 If he has wronged you at all, or owes you anything, charge that to my account. 19 I, Paul, write this with my own hand: I will repay it-to say nothing of your owing me even your own self. 20 Yes, brother, I want some benefit from you in the Lord. Refresh my heart in Christ.
21 Confident of your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I say . . . [ESV]
|Source: auction, fair use|
And, that is why in the classical world, Philemon struck the first telling blow, driving a stake into the heart of that institution.
2 Pet 3:15 And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, 16 as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures. 17 You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. 18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. [ESV]