Many Muslims and Christians believe God created all living things in a matter of days. Early scientists started off believing these creation stories as well, but then as they encountered the evidence, their views changed. Today almost all scientists who study livings things, say that life evolved over billions of years by a natural process.
Various polls and surveys of all kinds of scientists (including physicists, computers scientists, mathematicians, etc) shows about 95% to 97% of “all scientists” accept evolution. For who are in “earth and life” sciences, the number is even higher, estimated to be 99% to 99.9%. (http://bit.ly/evolsupport). At the same time, around a third of American scientists believe in God, and a significant number of these are Christians (http://bit.ly/godscientists).
If you reject evolution, you claim that almost all scientists are completely wrong and you are right. Why?
1. Scientists are less intelligent than you? That seems very arrogant.
2. Scientists know less about biology than you? That seems very ignorant.
3. Scientists are in a secret conspiracy to lie? That seems even more unbelievable than evolution.
4. Scientists are all brainwashed? So if scientists are taught something in school it’s brainwashing, but if children are taught the story of a magical garden from early childhood, it’s not brainwashing?
5. Scientists are all deceived by satan? So satan is able to convince all scientists of a lie, and even most Christian scientists?
6. Nature really does look like it evolved, and whether God initiated this or not, those who devote their lives to study nature have good reasons for thinking evolution is part of the answer.
#toughquestionfriday: Why are there no more grand miracles?
Most Christians say that the reason God performed such evident miracles in the past (stopping the sun, sending fire from the sky, splitting the sea, walking on water, raising the dead, etc) was to prove to everyone that his messengers were speaking the truth, and that his message (the Bible) was a supernaturally inspired book.
If that is true, why would God stop performing miracles today, in a time when billions don’t believe his message, specifically because they have never seen a miracle to authenticate it? Christians say that God doesn’t change, yet, what explains the change in God plan to use of miracles to authenticate his message?
Why did God stop now? If the stories are true, he performed miracles during both the Old and New Testament periods, so why stop now when we need it most?
POSSIBLE ANSWER #1 – God only did it during the writing of the Bible.
If this is true, how does that help us who don’t live during the writing of the Bible. God proved something to people in the past, but not to us. They knew for a fact it was authentic, we don’t. Now we are stuck with just having to blindly believe in the writings of some ancient people we haven’t met. Why should we be punished for simply being born at the wrong time?
POSSIBLE ANSWER #2 – The Bible has already been validated by miracles, it doesn’t need any more.
Not so fast. How can we know that its been validated? Because it says so? If the only “proof” that the Bible is true, is found inside the Bible, that is like trying to pick yourself up by pulling on your ears. If the only proof of superman is found inside a book about superman, would you believe it? Or would you require superman to fly by above you, before you believed?
POSSIBLE ANSWER #3 – If God proved it, then we can’t have faith, and that would be harmful
So then why did God authenticate it to everyone in the past? This still makes things unfair, but just means we are the lucky ones. Why did God treat everyone in history so poorly by proving his existence to them? Why did Jesus hate his disciples so much that he proved his powers to them? Why be so cruel to Thomas by showing him proof of the Resurrection??
POSSIBLE ANSWER #4 – God does prove it, there are miracles everywhere, your heart is just too hard to see.
If there are miracles that prove it, where are they? In the biblical story of Joshua, God purportedly “stops the sun” to give the earth an extra day. How in the world can someones heart be so stubborn that they will not notice an extra day? Besides, in the biblical stories, people with heard hearts frequently see the miracles of God and believe, for example, in the story of Elijah, when fire fell from the sky “all the people saw it, they fell on their faces and said, “The LORD, he is God; the LORD, he is God.” So why did miracles change minds back then, but don’t anymore?
POSSIBLE ANSWER #5 – God doesn’t prove it because there would be no free will to reject him then.
In the biblical stories of biblical miracles, people almost always accept that the miracles are real, but still reject God. For example in the Bible story of the Exodus, the Pharaoh had his heart hardened by God (and God didn’t seem to care much about free will, was able to both (a) believe in the existence of the Hebrew God and (b) reject him.
POSSIBLE ANSWER #6 – Because God gave us the Holy Spirit, and now we don’t need miracles.
This is unfaithful to the Biblical narrative which states that during the first half-century of the church they had (a) both the Holy Spirit and (b) the clearly evident supernatural miracles, like sick people being raised from simply being in Paul’s shadow.
Here is something really challenging to wrap our minds around (this in no way proves/disproves theism/atheism, but its an interesting thought exercise)
Where did God come from? Why does he exist? How can it be that something as incredibly sophisticated as an intelligent mind “just exists” without a creator, a cause, or an origin story? If your mind didn’t have a body, do you think its possible that your intelligent mind could “just exist” without a creator? Then how can Gods intelligent mind, which is superior to yours, “just exist” without a creator?
If its possible that a non-physical intelligent mind can “just exist” as a brute fact, is it possible that the non-physical laws of physics “just exist” without a creator? Why should a non-physical person be more likely than a non-physical law?
For the philosophically erudite, since God is defined as a metaphysically necessary thing, is it possible that the laws of physics are a necessary thing? Why should a non-physical person be more likely than a non-physical law?
When one asks “what reasons are there for God wanting to do A, but not B?” the reply is usually “because that is Gods nature.”
So why is Gods nature like A, and not like B? What determines Gods nature?
(And if the pat answer is “well God determined his own nature to be Nature-A, not like Nature-B” why did he determine Nature-A instead of Nature-B?”
Why is the Old Testament called eternal?
Most evangelicals say that the Old Testament was meant to be temporary covenant, one that was planned to be replaced by a better covenant, if that’s the case, why is this covenant (or series of them) in the Old testament frequently called an “everlasting covenant” not a “temporary covenant”? In fact, in Psalm 19:7 the Law is called perfect, which leads us to wonder, why should a “perfect” Law need replacing? (See below for examples)
Why does OT eschatalogical prophecy of the future include a restoration of Old Testament Law?
In fact Zechariah has a prophecy regarding the end times (Zech14:4-13) which undeniably shows the “the Day of the Lord.” In this prophecy The Lords feet rest on the Mount of Olives, there is eternal daytime, no night, and God ushers his reign of peace for the whole earth. During this eternal kingdom, God commands all nations to obey Old Testament law and celebrate the feast of Booths (Zech 14:16-19). Likewise, we see temple sacrifices continue in this vision of the future (Zech 14:21).
A few examples of Old Testament edicts described as Eternal/everlasting
“The Israelites are to observe the Sabbath, celebrating it for the generations to come as an ENDURING covenant” (Exod 31:16)
“The secret things belong to Yahweh our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children FOREVER, that we may follow all the words of this law” (Deut 29:29)
“A servant who is born in your house or who is bought with your money shall surely be circumcised; thus shall My covenant be in your flesh for an EVERLASTING covenant.” (Gen 17:13)
“God said, “No, but Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an EVERLASTING covenant for his offspring after him.” (Genesis 17:19)
“The earth is defiled by its people; they have disobeyed the laws, violated the statutes and broken the EVERLASTING covenant.” (Isaiah 24:5)
“it is from the people of Israel as a covenant FOREVER.” (Leviticus 24:8)
“It is an EVERLASTING covenant of salt before the Lord to you and your descendants with you.”(Num 18:19)
Generally speaking religious people often say that “life without God has no purpose.” Why? The principle seems to be that one cannot simply “invent” their own life purpose, that is like pulling yourself up by your bootstraps. Life purpose has to be *given* to you by a being higher than yourself.
If that is the case, who gives God his purpose? And what is God’s purpose anyway? Is it to “just exist” and to “receive worship”?
OPTION 1 – Someone above God gives God his purpose. This is rather silly, for then God is not truly God, but there is another higher creature who is the true God, and we are back to the same question, who gives ‘that’ being purpose? This would go on ad infinitum.
OPTION 2 – God makes up his own purpose. This brings up interesting questions like (a) why does God pick one purpose over another? is it arbitrary? (b) can God change his purpose? Has he? Will he? (c) what made God even decide to have a purpose as opposed to not having one? And finally (d) if one being (God) can just make up his purpose, why can’t other beings do the same?
OPTION 3 – God derives his purpose from his nature. If that’s the case, then surely all creatures, for example humans, can just as well derive purpose from their nature not from God. If we allow it as a philosophical principle that some being (God) can find his purpose in his nature, then logically any other being (i.e. a human) can also derive purpose from his nature. It would seem that picking option 3 removes from one the ability to say “life without God is meaningless.”
OPTION 4 – God doesn’t need a purpose or meaning. Well then… this feels a tad nihilistic.
Can you think of any others?