god

Why are there no more miracles?

#toughquestionfriday: Why are there no more grand miracles?

philosoraptor miracles.png

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.

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Where Did God Come From?

where did god come from

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?

Why doesnt God reveal himself so clearly that there are only two choices, instead of hundreds?

why doesnt god clearly reveal himselfWhy would God not reveal himself so clearly that the only possible choices would be to:

(a) reject him, having accurate knowledge of who he is

(b) accept him, having accurate knowledge of who he is

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1. Instead of knowingly choosing A or B, people have a more difficult choice, including dozens of different options in their own religion, some of which are claimed to damn one to hell (Trinity, Unitarian, Pentecostal, Catholic, Prosperity, Free Grace, Pelagianism, and hundreds of other views or “heresies,” etc etc).

2. Instead of knowingly choosing A or B, people have a more difficult choice, including hundreds of religions that are active today, each with dozens of interpretations, each filled with millions who sincerely believe they picked the right God.

3. Instead of knowingly choosing A or B, people are in ignorance and choose from thousands of options depending on their historical era, in many cases, the full truth being unavailable to those who lived before the time of the full truth. (i.e., Islam and Christianity only began after thousands of generations of people died).

1, 2, 3 could easily be averted if God simply revealed himself more clearly, and people could still have free will to chose A or B. So why did God not actualize such a system?

Some biblical authors viewed God as having the ability to deceive, others did not

Do the Biblical authors agree on who God is? In many cases they do, in others they do not.

Most biblical scholars say that the Bible was written by a diverse group of people with differing views and opinions about political and social issues (one only need look at some of the differences between the Hebrew Bible with it’s nationalistic focus, to the New Testaments pacifist ethics.)

As the Oxford Companion to the Bible (edited by leading Princeton/Harvard scholars Bruce Metzger and Micahel Coogan) asserts: “The Bible thus speaks with many voices, and, from the time of its emergence as an authoritative sacred text, readers and interpreters have noted its many repetitions, inconsistencies, and contradictions.”

How the biblical writers view god

Would God torture and condemn the “open hearted agnostic”?

I know many people who say “I would obey and respect God if I had evidence of his/her existence. I’ve tried praying many times, but it’s done nothing for me. If at any time in the future, God would supernaturally reveal himself to me, so I could be sure that God is real, I would certainly obey whatever rules he had, but without this certainty, I see no point in just picking one of the hundreds of religions/gods.”

Is God going to send such an “open hearted agnostic/atheist” to hell?

a. If yes, then *why* should a God desire to torture and torment people who are not evil rebels, but simply need to be convinced? (The stories of St. Thomas and St. Paul portray Jesus as using hard evidence to convince doubters).

b. If no, then *why* should anyone be urged to join one of the hundreds of religions, instead of simply waiting for God to reveal himself supernaturally?

c. If “we don’t know, God will judge” then why do we strongly urge and plead such people to join our religion? If we don’t know these things, then we should stop claiming that we do, right?

Why do most peoples depictions of God show him as utterly violent and vindictive?

Why does that make sense?

There are stories where God supposedly says he will force people to eat their children if they don’t obey him, or where he kills all of humanity by drowning men, women, children, and babies, as well as plenty of tales of God commanding one small tribe to kill the adults/children/infants of another small tribe.

There is so much vengeance and retribution ascribed to God, but why would God even WANT to be so angry, vindictive, vengeful, and pernicious? Sure, we humans want vengeance, because have been harmed and want to make the other person pay, but why would God want that?

Why would God WANT to kill, murder, destroy, and torture people in hell forever?

Common answers that don’t really work

#1 – But we deserve it. First off, it’s hard to prove those babies really deserved it, but that’s another matter. The real issue is “so what?” Even if we did deserve to be beat up and tortured, why would God want to do that as opposed to forgiving everyone? Even if the Amalekite babies deserved to die, why would God wan’t to give them what they deserve as opposed to love?

#2 – God doesn’t want to but we choose our own destiny, we suffer by choice.
The Bible clearly depicts that God is doing the commanding shows him in charge. If you look at every Old Testament story that shows a vengeful God, in each one the story very clearly shows God is forcing the act of violence to happen. Surely God could have easily said told the Israelite soldiers to “forgive people” rather than “kill people.” Surely God could easily throw people onto a nice eternal island rather than a lake of fire.

#3 – God isn’t vengeful, youre just interpreting the Bible wrong.
“God of vengeance” Psalm 94:1 and “A jealous and avenging God is the LORD; The LORD is avenging and wrathful”” Nahum 1:2

Why did God stop intervening in order to save the lives of the innocent?

In the Old Testament we see examples where God prevents the sun from moving, fire/hail coming from the sky to kill enemies, and whole attacking armies are instantly blinded to save praying people. For example, when Judea was under threat by the Assyrians, and Hezekiah prayed, the text says an angel flew over the Assyrian army and killed 185,000 soldiers instantly. (2 Kings 19)

Why has God stopped doing that? Why not send an angel to instantly kill all of the Nazi soldiers who were rounding up the Jews or attacking Europe? (Surely millions were praying just as eagerly as Hezekiah) Why not instantly blind all the rapists who are currently attacking children?

These are all the kinds of things that were reported in the past, so why have they stopped now?