Monday, January 15, 2018

Can You Have Purpose Without God?

Quote from "Purpose Driven Life" by Rick Warren- "Without a purpose, life is motion without #meaning, activity without direction, and events without #reason. Without a #purpose, #life is trivial, petty, and pointless." #theology #God #anthropology #philosophy #theodicy
Introduction
One of the more convincing reasons to believe that atheism is false comes from man's desire for life to have purpose. If there is no designer behind the universe, life in general, and our individual lives in particular, have no ultimate purpose, no goal to guide our decisions, no finish line to motivate us to keep running when things get tough. The way that pastor Rick Warren put it in his book "The Purpose-Driven Life" makes it quite clear:
"Without a purpose, life is motion without meaning, activity without direction, and events without reason. Without a purpose, life is trivial, petty, and pointless."
If life is truly pointless, then why should anyone want to endure the suffering and pain that life brings? If life is pointless, as atheism necessarily implies, then there is no reason to want to continue to live. This is, quite literally, an unlivable philosophy for life, and if atheism necessarily implies this philosophy, then atheism is not just unlivable, but completely incompatible with living. And if a worldview is incompatible with living, it cannot be true. However, people do continue to live because they believe that their lives do have a purpose, so it follows that atheism is false. The power of this argument against their worldview is recognized by many atheists (they would agree with Warren in his assessment of the need for purpose), and they believe that they have found a way to undermine the soundness of the defeater of their worldview.



Atheistic Purposes?
In order to undermine the defeater, the atheist recognizes that there must be some way to give people's lives purpose. Since they do not have a Creator to provide such a purpose, they must look elsewhere. The common appeal for the atheist is to look to the individual for their purpose for living. Whatever the individual wants or desires becomes their purpose for living. From what I can tell, there are at least three problems with this approach.

Humanist vs. Narcissist
First, unless the person is a complete narcissist, they will attempt to take others' lives and feelings into account (a humanist position) as they attempt to create the purposes for their lives. In order to keep from becoming overwhelmed with the shear number of people to consider, the individual must limit the scope of who all they will consider. This can only be done by considering the other people's value. In an atheistic worldview, humans do not have intrinsic or equal value (grounded in the Image of God in Christianity), so their value must be determined by their purpose. But if that individual must determine their own purpose, then that must be taken into account when the humanist is attempting to create their purpose. This, of course, becomes extremely difficult if the purposes of the others are not necessarily known and even more difficult if the other people considered decided to change their purposes at any given time. And let us also not overlook the infinite regress of interdependencies of purposes upon one another, which may actually render such a pursuit of purpose for the humanist practically (if not necessarily) impossible.

Challenged by Others
Second, let us assume that the atheist is able to face and overcome the obstacles described above (or is a narcissist) and chooses their own purposes. Others, no doubt, will question the individual's chosen purpose. The humanist will question the narcissist, and the narcissist will question the humanist (let's also not forget that existentialists, hedonists, and numerous others who also will give their input). This results in the individual doubting their choice of purpose, which will throw them right back into the struggle described in the first issue. Unless the atheist is or becomes a narcisist, these two issues will never result in satisfaction with the purpose set by the individual. If satisfaction does not exist, the process continues ad infitum.

It Keeps Going and Going and Going and Going...
Third, if the atheist gets to the point of settling upon a purpose (through accepting narcissim or whatever), once the goal is achieved, new purposes must be created quickly; otherwise, hopelessness will set in when living becomes painful. Even the narcisist will become tired of repeating the same process over and over with no ultimate satisfaction that an ultimate goal has been achieved. The only way to avoid despair for the atheist is to borrow from theism and believe (incorrectly and blindly) that their repeated struggle does have ultimate purpose.

Tiny Little Purposes
The atheistic life is ultimately unlivable without believing the "useful fiction" of ultimate purpose (theism). Without an ultimate purpose to deal with the struggle, pain, and suffering involved in trying to create our own individual purposes numerous times throughout our lives, doing this time and time again becomes tedious, and when we realize that we become more willing to question such a delusion. As we personally experience the futility of trying to create our own purposes, something about this never-ending process becomes painfully apparent. In his talk "Has Christianity Failed You?" philosopher Ravi Zacharias stated it succinctly:
"If you don't have ultimate purpose, all these tiny little purposes are nothing else but ways to tranquilize your boredom."
Tranquilzing our boredom becomes the atheist's ultimate purpose, but who or what established that that is, in fact, their ultimate purpose? The atheist tries to undermine God's existence (which necessarily implies ultimate purpose; again, who or what assigned that as the ultimate purpose?) by demonstrating subjective purposes can exist. However, this side-steps the issue; it does not actually address the issue. The atheist believes that since they have offered subjective purposes that ultimate purpose is no longer necessary. But subjective purposes and ultimate purpose are not mutually exclusive. Just because subjective purposes exist does not mean that ultimate purpose does not, as has been demonstrated in the three issues with trying to substitute subjective purposes for ultimate purpose. Again, Ravi Zacharias:
"God's made you for a purpose. All the tiny little purposes become purposeful because your life itself has purpose."
Quote from "Has Christianity Failed You" by Ravi Zacharias "God's made you for a purpose. All the tiny little purposes become purposeful because your life itself has purpose. If you don't have ultimate purpose, all these tiny little purposes are nothing else but ways to tranquilize your boredom." #purpose #God #atheism #fatalism


Conclusion
While the atheist believes that they can overcome the challenge of a lack of ultimate purpose in their lives, we have been hardwired to need ultimate purpose in order to continue to want to live. Atheism is logically incompatible with such an idea. Atheism has no choice but to borrow from Christianity to make itself a livable worldview. To the atheist, ultimate purpose is nothing more than a "useful fiction" and since such a belief in a purpose-giver is necessary to live out atheism, why would the atheist establish his purpose as to undermine the existence of the Purpose-Giver? How can a worldview be true if it promotes the belief of a useful fiction in order to make it livable? Simply put, it can't. Atheism is not true, and our need for purpose demonstrates it. Atheism tips its hat to Christianity in its reliance upon an ultimate purpose. That is no coinicidence, it must be so because Christianity is true.

If you have been struggling intellectually and emotionally with your purpose in life, I invite you to not only consider the argument presented in this post, but also those on the many other posts on this blog. You will continue to struggle with your purpose until you accept that Jesus is your Creator and Savior, and He is the Purposer of your life. Investigate the evidence, then come to Christ on His terms and see that He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

Quote from "Purpose Driven Life" by Rick Warren- "The easiest way to discover the #purpose of an invention is to ask the creator of it. The same is true for discovering your life's purpose: Ask #God." #theology #anthropology #atheism


For more on purpose and worldviews, check out these additional blog posts:




24 comments:

  1. The Christian argument for the bodily resurrection of Jesus would be a little stronger if the majority of NT scholars believed that the Gospels were written by eyewitnesses, but they do not. Only a small minority of mostly evangelical Christian NT scholars (with an agenda—biblical inerrancy—) hold this view.

    But even if the Gospels were written by eyewitnesses, or even if we could be certain that the four resurrection stories in the Gospels were originally told by eyewitnesses, who today would believe the eyewitness testimony of a bunch of mostly uneducated, rural peasants claiming that they had just eaten a broiled-fish lunch with their recently executed former fishing buddy???

    It is a silly story, folks. Modern, educated people should not believe that it was a literal historical event.

    Eyewitness testimony may be sufficient evidence for car accidents and murder trials, but it is not sufficient evidence to believe claims of sea monsters in Scottish lochs, alien abductions, or zombie sightings. If twelve guys told you that they had all eaten lunch with Big Foot on a recent hunting trip would you believe them? No. So why believe a second-hand report that eleven fishermen (and one tax collector), two thousand years ago, ate a broiled fish lunch with a walking/talking dead guy (zombie)?

    https://lutherwasnotbornagaincom.wordpress.com/2018/01/18/eyewitness-testimony-is-sufficient-for-car-accidents-and-murder-trials-it-is-not-sufficient-for-alien-abductions-or-zombie-sightings/

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    Replies
    1. Gary,
      I am curious if you have engaged the work of homicide detective (and eyewitness expert) J. Warner Wallace. He began his investigation of the gospels as an atheist and was convinced by what he saw in them, when compared to modern eyewitness testimony, that they were in fact eyewitness reports. He had no bias towards Christianity; instead his bias was AGAINST Christianity. The evidence is what convinced him. He has written a book on his investigation that you can see here:

      Cold Case Christianity

      His website is ColdCaseChristianity.com.

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    2. Hi Luke,

      I certainly respect Mr. Wallace sincerity in converting to Christianity. The problem is that very intelligent, educated people "convert" to very different belief systems all the time. Muslims convert to Christianity. Christians convert to Islam. Jews convert to Islam. Christians convert to Hare Krishnas! So I do not believe that conversion from one belief system to another based on "research" is a valid criteria for labeling a particular belief system as the one and only truth.

      We each have to look at the evidence OURSELVES. Just because someone famous converts to being a member of the Church of Scientology "based on the evidence", or any other group or movement, doesn't mean the rest of us should.

      The central question is: Is the evidence strong for a 2,000 year old claim that a three-day brain dead corpse came back from the dead, ate lunch and chatted with his former followers, and then was witnessed levitating into the clouds.

      Ask yourself this: If someone today made the very same claim about a recent religious figure what evidence would you demand to believe it. Would you believe the ALLEGED eyewitness testimony of eleven very sincere people??? I don't think you would.

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    3. Gary,
      I agree with you that we should not accept a worldview just because someone else converted to it. I also agree that we need to examine the whole of reality to see which worldview best explains it. This includes reports of seemingly unnatural events. Wallace is an expert in eye-witness testimony, and he has authenticated the gospels as eye-witness accounts, so what they witnessed demands an explanation by whatever resources anyone's worldview allows. Interestingly enough, worldviews that do not allow for the supernatural at all, they must explain (naturally) the report that 500 people saw Jesus simultaneously after his death. This is usually explained by a group hallucination. However, I recall that a neurologist said that a group hallucination of this scale is less probably than something dead coming to life (keep in mind that this is compared to the probability for the origin of life). Ironically, the naturalist posits a greater miracle than the Christian, but that is beside the point. This is only one small feature of the whole of reality (which could include your hypothetical, and keep in mind that the theist has every mechanism for explanation as the naturalist plus more to explain these such clams; so if you can explain it, so can we).

      This is why Jesus being seen after his death is not the only feature of reality offered as evidence for Christianity. Other features of reality must also be explained including reason, mathematics, values, moral duties, beauty, agency, free will, the very concept of design, and not to mention the reliability of our cognitive faculties to recognize that these exist (unless I just rattled off a list of "useful fictions" that evolution has foisted on us, which then demonstrates the unreliability of our faculties to accurately perceive reality, which then compromises any "reasons" you give for rejecting the inference of the Resurrection from the evidence presented in the books you listed in your reply to Julien below.)

      The claim of the Resurrection indeed is THE event that Christianity hangs upon; however, even the rejection of it requires the reliability of our cognitive faculties to perceive reality correct and reason soundly to further conclusions. This can only be accomplished if God exists AND has created us in His Image (faculties designed to discover what is true and not just what is pragmatic [including "useful fictions"]). I invite you research much more than just the Resurrection; broaden your investigation beyond that single historical claim and investigate how (if) other worldviews even have the resources to explain the numerous other features of reality (you will find that many of the worldviews have to deny many of the features, reducing them to "useful fictions," to make sense- be careful of these denials and make sure that you also investigate the implications of such denials).

      Here are a few books that I recommend that you add to your reading list to continue your investigation into the whole of reality:

      Agents Under Fire- Angus Menuge
      Where the Conflict Really Lies- Alvin Plantinga
      Relativism: Feet Planted in Mid-Air- Greg Koukl and Frank Beckwith
      Creator and the Cosmos- Hugh Ross (new edition coming in March)
      Improbable Planet- Hugh Ross

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    4. Hi Luke,

      Wallace may be an expert in using eyewitness testimony to evaluate the facts of a criminal case, but he is not an expert of ancient Greek and Hebrew. He is not an expert of ancient manuscripts. He is not an expert of the Bible. He is not a New Testament critical scholar.

      Mr. Wallace, like so many conservative Christian apologists, ASSUMES that the Gospels are eyewitness testimony. The majority of experts in this field---critical scholars of the New Testament (those with a PhD in New Testament studies)---say he is wrong.

      IF the Gospels were eyewitness testimony, Wallace would have a winning case. But since the experts say they are not, his case fails.

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    5. Crowds of hundreds claim to have seen, at the same time and place, the Virgin Mary appear to them last summer in Knock, Ireland. There is even a video of it.
      Do you believe that these very enthusiastic, devoutly religious people really saw a woman who lived and died 2,000 years ago?

      I doubt it.

      So why do you believe the claim that 500 people saw Jesus with even weaker evidence than what we have for the above appearance of Mary?

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    6. Gary, I have not investigated that particular claim, but how would you propose that it argues against the Resurrection?

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    7. Gary, do you think that Wallace assumed the gospels were eyewitness testimony when he was an atheist and was investigating them?

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    8. Hi Luke,

      Let me address your second question first: I haven't read his work, but the next book I plan to read is Wallace's book. So as of this moment, I don't know the answer to your question. My guess is that when Wallace started investigating the evidence for the Resurrection, he accepted as fact the claims of conservative Christian scholars and apologists who believe that the Gospels were written by the apostles or the associates of the apostles and that they are eyewitness accounts. Please correct me if I am wrong.

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    9. Now to your first question. You said this: "Interestingly enough, worldviews that do not allow for the supernatural at all, they must explain (naturally) the report that 500 people saw Jesus simultaneously after his death. This is usually explained by a group hallucination."

      I am a physician. A group of people CANNOT have the same hallucination. It is medically impossible.

      But I believe you are making an assumption about this Christian claim: Christians assume that when Paul refers to 500 people seeing Jesus at the same time and place that these 500 people all saw a walking, talking resurrected BODY. But Paul does not specify exactly what these people saw. For all we know, these 500 people saw what the author of Acts states that Paul saw: a bright light, and that's it.

      Last year hundreds of Roman Catholic Christians in Knock, Ireland believed that the Virgin Mary appeared to them as a bright ray of light out of the clouds. If you asked them what they saw, their answer would be "the Virgin Mary!" but all they really saw was a bright light.

      These people experienced an illusion. Although a group of people CANNOT experience a group hallucination, a group of people CAN experience a group illusion. I am suggesting that the 500 people that Paul refers to could have experienced a similar illusion.

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    10. I just purchased Wallace's book on Amazon Prime. I was able to look inside and found this on page 144:

      "The Christian worldview is based on the eyewitness testimony of the gospel authors."

      So, we have proof: Wallace's entire case rests on his belief that the Gospels are eyewitness testimony. Is he aware that the majority of scholars do not believe this? How will Mr. Wallace convince a jury to accept his non-expert opinion that the Gospels are eyewitness testimony if the majority of experts say they are not???

      If I were the opposing attorney, I would call to the stand New Testament scholar NT Wright, a favorite of conservative Christians because of his staunch belief in the bodily resurrection of Jesus. I would ask Dr. Wright to repeat his position on the authorship of the Gospels, a position anyone can google and find on the internet in a youtube video interview:

      "I do not know who the authors of the Gospels were, nor does anyone else."

      So although NT Wright does not join the majority of NT scholars who reject the idea that eyewitnesses or the associates of eyewitnesses wrote the Gospels, but he will admit that he does not know who did write them.

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    11. Gary, if the gospels claim to be eye-witness accounts, I'm confused as to how an expert in distinguishing between actual eye-witness accounts and falsified eye-witness accounts is a non-expert. Could you please elaborate on this?

      Also, I've noticed that you commit the fallacies of appealing to the majority and appealing to authority. The majority of authorities on the origins of the cosmos thought that the universe was eternal until the 20th century when big bang cosmology was confirmed, so both the majority and authorities can be very wrong. We have to evaluate the claim based upon the evidence. Wallace was an atheist while he was investigating. His decision to believe in the historicity of the Resurrection was made "a posteriori" (after the evidence) not "a priori" (prior to the evidence). What is the evidence that the gospels were NOT eye-witness testimonies?

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    12. Hi Luke,

      I am already in chapter 4 of Wallace's book. He is a good author but he makes some false assumptions and some blatant errors. In chapter 2, he conflates two of the "facts" in Gary Habermas' "Facts about the Resurrection" (a list of 12 items that Habermas personally believes are facts) with Habermas and Licona's "Minimal Facts" argument (a list of five facts agreed upon by almost all scholars, believers and non-believers). Wallace states that there is consensus among all scholars, believers and non-believers, that it is an historical fact that Jesus was buried and that his tomb was empty. This is just not true. These two items were included in Habermas' orginal list of personal beliefs, but are not included in Habermas and Licona's list of "Minimal Facts". This is a serious error. It gives the impression that it is consensus scholarly opinion that Jesus was buried and that his tomb was found empty. Even Habermas admits that a substantial number of scholars do not believe that the Empty Tomb is historical.

      In chapter four Wallace makes this claim: "the Gospels have always been understood as a set of eyewitness accounts" p. 82

      This again is blatantly false. The current scholarly consensus is that the Gospels were not written by the traditional authors or by any eyewitness or associate of an eyewitness. Even very conservative Christian scholar Richard Bauckman admits that this is the current consensus of scholars.

      Although it is true that just because the majority of experts believe something doesn't mean it is 100% certain they are correct, those of us who live in advanced, industrialized societies rely on expert opinion in areas in which we personally are not experts all the time. Such advanced societies would not function if every citizen insisted on personally verifying every truth claim instead of relying on the expertise of experts in that field.

      Could the experts be wrong and Wallace be right? Maybe. I will keep reading to look at more of his argument.

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    13. Gary I think you are making some unsupported assertions and not backing them with evidence. The apologist Gary Harbermas in 2005 did empirical research on pinon and found the majority of scalars do bleive in the resurrection. You might argue they don;t believe in eye witness testimony, but it's hared to believe they would accept tyhe resukrrection and not eye witness testeonyof the Gospels.

      "Of these scholars, approximately 75% favor one or more of these arguments for the empty tomb, while approximately 25% think that one or more arguments oppose it. Thus, while far from being unanimously held by critical scholars, it may surprise some that those who embrace the empty tomb as a historical fact still comprise a fairly strong majority." (Gary R. Habermas
      An edited version of this article was published in the
      Journal for the Study of the Historical Jesus, 3.2 (2005), pp. 135-153)
      http://www.garyhabermas.com/articles/J_Study_Historical_Jesus_3-2_2005/J_Study_Historical_Jesus_3-2_2005.htm

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    14. The overwhelming majority of New Testament scholars are Christians, so of course they believe in the Resurrection. That is very different than saying that they believe that there is sufficient historical evidence for the Resurrection to list it in history books as an historical fact along side Caesar's crossing of the Rubicon and Alexander the Great's sacking of Tyre.

      I believe that Habermas is correct that most New Testament scholars believe in the historicity of the Empty Tomb. I accept the historicity of the Empty Tomb.

      Now, do you accept the majority New Testament scholarly opinion that the Gospels were not written by eyewitnesses nor the associates of eyewitnesses?

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  2. Hey Gary,

    I used to say the same thing! No kidding. I was an atheist for 40 years and like many atheists I used the same argument as you just did in your comment.

    My problem, and I know it is true for the majority of most atheists, is that they won't even bother looking at the Christian arguments. Yet, when they decide to so, like C.S. Lewis or Anthony Flew, or myself did (though I won't compare myself to these two extremely smart people), and try to do it from an unbiased viewpoint, they can't help wonder.

    Don't get me wrong, it took me a while to be convinced and I'm still learning. But in all honesty, after hearing from tons of people ranging from skeptics, atheists, Christians, historians and philosophers, I had to come to the conclusion that I was wrong. There are many reasons for it, too many to list here, but from an historical standpoint, the other possibilities are weak.

    Anyway, I'll keep this answer short by saying that if you want to be true to yourself, you owe it to yourself to do more research. Keep an open mind and read, listen to podcasts, or watch videos (plenty on YouTube) about the Resurrection. When I started, I read Lee Strobel’s “Case for Jesus Christ”. I liked his approach because he was an atheist. There’s also a great book by Gary Habermas called “Case for the Resurrection of Jesus” that speaks of the historical facts that are recognized by most secular historians. And if you ever want to find out why God must exist, I would recommend Tim Keller’s “Making Sense of God” and “The Reasons for God” (keep those for later) as well as any lecture by Ravi Zacharias.

    Start with the converted atheists like J. Warner Wallace mentioned by Mr. Nix. He also has lectures on YouTube.

    So much for a short answer! Good luck to you.

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  3. Hi Julien,

    I do agree with you that this is a big decision and that one should research this issue in depth before making a decision. And I believe it is important to fully investigate both sides, the Christian and the skeptic. Below is a list of books I have read. Out of curiosity, how many books have you read by skeptics recently?

    1. "The Resurrection of the Son of God" by NT Wright
    2. "Jesus and the Eyewitnesses" by Richard Bauckham
    3. “The Death of the Messiah, Volumes I and II” by Raymond Brown
    4. "Making the Case for Christianity" by Maas, Francisco, et al.
    5. " The Resurrection Fact" by Bombaro, Francisco, et al.
    6. "Miracles, Volumes I and II”, by Craig Keener
    7. “The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus” by Gary Habermas and Michael Licona
    8. “Why are There Differences in the Gospels” by Michael Licona
    9. “The Son Rises” by William Lane Craig
    10. “The Virginal Conception and Bodily Resurrection of Jesus” by Raymond Brown
    11. “The Resurrection of Jesus” by Gerd Luedemann
    12. “Resurrection Reconsidered” by Gregory Riley
    13. “John and Thomas---Gospels in Conflict?” by Christopher Skinner
    14. "The Argument for the Holy Sepulchre" (journal article) by scholar Jerome Murphy-O'Connor
    15. "Israel in Egypt" by James Hoffmeier
    16. “The Bible Unearthed” by Finkelstein and Silberman
    17. "The Resurrection of Jesus in the Light of Jewish Burial Practices" by Craig Evans, (newsletter article) The City, a publication of Houston Baptist University, May 4, 2016
    18. "Has the Tomb of Jesus Been Discovered?" by Jodi Magness, SBL Forum
    19. "Genre, Sub-genre and Questions of Audience: A Proposed Typology for Greco-Roman biography" (article) by Justin M. Smith, St. Mary’s College, University of St. Andrews, Scotland
    20. “Twenty-Six Reasons Why Jews Don’t Believe in Jesus” by Asher Norman (not a work of scholarship per se, but it is endorsed by Talmudic scholars for its accuracy in presenting a Jewish perspective of Jesus and the Christian New Testament)
    21. “The Book of Miracles” by Kenneth L. Woodward
    22. “Why I Believed, Reflections of a Former Missionary” by Kenneth W. Daniels

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  4. Hi Gary,

    Impressive list. I wish I could say I've read that many recently, but that would be a lie. As an atheist, I read many "classics” like Sartre, Camus and Nietzsche, but more recently I dove into Dawkins (The Delusion of God), followed by David Berlinski (The Devil's Delusion) and Christopher Hitchens (God Is Not Great). I also watched some of the debates available online between people like Frank Turek and Sam Harris.

    Regarding the Resurrection, I must agree with you regarding the claim the early eyewitnesses made. I too, as an atheist, considered that pure folly, a fairy-tale meant to appease the masses. But the issue is not so much the Resurrection itself. What troubled me when I looked into the details is that no other explanation held the road. I won’t go into details here, that would take too long, but during my research I had to come to the conclusion that despite the unrealistic nature of the event (at least from a natural and materialistic perspective), other possibilities were unreliable. Strobel’s books address some of these arguments.

    May I add that I was not looking to find God in my research. I didn’t want Him to exist. I wanted to agree with the skeptics. I wanted to be part of the “cool” club.

    The Resurrection alone is an event worth studying, but to me it’s the accumulation of all the other arguments that make Christianity coherent. Other religions have parts of this coherence, but not the whole package. Of course, at the end of the day, it’s a matter of faith. Historical and philosophical arguments are helpful, but what truly matters is faith and the relationship you built with God. The funny thing is that if I told you the “strange” things that happened to me after I started speaking to God, you would call me crazy. A few years ago, I would have called that lunacy. Logic can lead to the path of God, but only faith can lead to God.

    I’m going to stop here. It looks like you’re well-read and I’m not sure more reading is then necessary since through these books, you’ve been introduced to all the key topics. I wish there was a bullet-proof argument for Christianity, but that doesn’t exist. There are philosophical reasons for that (Ravi Zacharias speaks of that in many of his lectures), but the bottom line is that nobody will ever find God through these arguments. They give us clues, kind of a roadmap, but only the connection between a person and God makes the difference.

    So much to say about this topic, but I have to go. I pray that you find peace in your heart. Sincerely. Take care.

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    1. So what you are saying is that studying evidence is not how one discovers whether the truth claims of Christianity are true. One should simply believe by faith and then secret knowledge will be given to you; secret knowledge that will confirm that your decision to believe was the right choice.

      Sorry, but that is what every cult says.

      I believe that all truth claims should be based on evidence, evidence, and only evidence. Warm fuzzy feelings and personal perceptions are notoriously unreliable.

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  5. Hi Gary,

    Not exactly what I wrote, but feel free to interpret it that way if it suits you. Evidences will give you hints at a belief system, but they will never confirm or deny completely a belief system. It is true for theism as it is true for atheism. It always boils down to "faith". I chose Christianity, because it is the most coherent of all systems. Is it bullet proof? No it isn't. It requires faith and trust. But so does atheism.

    If one day you reach the same conclusion as I did, you'll know exactly what I meant when I said that knowing God is a "heart business", not a "brain business". And if you want more evidences, check out the work of Anthony Flew, one of the most notorious atheist of our time. He turned to deism and he believed that evidences lead to God. I'm not sure he found Christ (only God knows), but 80 years of trying to disprove God lead him to believe he was wrong.

    Good luck to you Gary. I mean it sincerely. Keep on searching.

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    1. I Julien,

      I grew up evangelical. I sincerely and earnestly repented of all my sins, asked Jesus to be my Lord and Savior, and committed my life to him at the age of nine. I was baptized shortly thereafter. I have experienced the "heart business" you speak of. The question is: are those wonderful feelings and perceptions of the heart due to an invisible being called Jesus or are they do to an internal conversation with...me? Self dialogue and self deception.

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    2. They produce caned life. There is scientific data to back this up, I am not going to say that a disciplined exposition of self through spiral practices wont produce some of that. Who is to say such a practice is not tapping into God's presence? But is provable s fact that the experiences associated with religious belief and mystical consciousnesses provide changed lives and dramatic positive transformation, there is no data to indicate that one can analyze one;s self into it.

      drr my data: http://metacrock.blogspot.com/2018/02/the-scientific-study-of-religious.html

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    3. I wrote a book about religious experience,I examined 200 empirical scientific studies in academic journals. these are studies by psychologists and sociologists not ministers or even Christians as far as I know. The overwhelming weight of the evidence shows that those experiences are real,they effect lives in a dramatic positve ways, they can;t be attirbted to any natural means.

      the book :The trace ofr God

      on amaon

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