XFiles: Destination Hell

(Book: I Don’t Have Enough FAITH to Be an ATHEIST, by Geisler and Turek, chapter 15.)

Last week, Geisler and Turek told us a fairy tale without a happy ending, about a king who disguised himself as a commoner so that he could discover the true feelings of the young maid he’d fallen in love with. This week, they take the supposedly real-life equivalent of that fairy tale, and give the ending not just one, but several grim twists. First, though, they have to make their little rhetorical point about how the Bible is the “box top” to the jigsaw puzzle of life.

We said that if we could find the box top, we’d be able to answer the five greatest questions that confront every human being. Since we now know beyond a reasonable doubt that the box top is the Bible, the answers to those five questions are:

Eh, I’ll summarize: our origin is “God did it,” our identity is “we’re made in God’s image,” the meaning of life is “we were put here so we could make choices that would send us to heaven or hell,” morality is “keeping God’s commandments and spreading the Gospel,” and our destiny is… Well, that’s the rest of this post.

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XFiles: The Fairy Tale Maid and the Snuff Porn Savior

(Book: I Don’t Have Enough FAITH to Be an ATHEIST, by Geisler and Turek, chapter 15.)

Few things in life are as handy as a good rationalization. No matter where you start from, and no matter what the actual facts are, a good rationalization will always take  you to wherever you want to be. That’s deeply satisfying, if not strictly honest or wise.

The problem is that when you’re faced with a big problem, you sometimes feel the urge to draw on two or more rationalizations, to try and reinforce your position. That’s generally a bad idea. Rationalizations are not the truth, and do not benefit from the perfect self-consistency that is the hallmark of real-world facts. As soon as you start piling on different rationalizations, you begin to expose the inherent inconsistencies between them. Geisler and Turek provide us with yet another good example in this week’s installment of IDHEFBA.

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XFiles: Targeted recruiting

(Book: I Don’t Have Enough FAITH to Be an ATHEIST, by Geisler and Turek, chapter 15.)

We’ve made it at last to Chapter 15, the traditional “altar call” with which many preachers end their Sunday sermon. Without any hint of intentional irony, Geisler and Turek are going to end I Don’t Have Enough FAITH to Be an Atheist by urging us to have faith in Jesus. And they base this appeal, not on verifiable evidence or rational logic, but on emotion. And a rather selfish emotion at that.

A young man is brought before a judge for drunk driving. When his name is announced by the bailiff, there’s a gasp in the courtroom—the defendant is the judge’s son! The judge hopes his son is innocent, but the evidence is irrefutable. He’s guilty.

What can the judge do? He’s caught in a dilemma between justice and love. Since his son is guilty, he deserves punishment. But the judge doesn’t want to punish his son because of his great love for him.

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Easter Special: How to Fake a Resurrection (Without Really Trying) Part 2

Let’s continue yesterday’s discussion of a plausible, non-supernatural scenario that would produce the current Christian belief in the Resurrection of Jesus. So far, we’re up to Stage One: The Empty Tomb. A group of rogue disciples, without the knowledge or permission of the Apostles or most of the other disciples, has moved Jesus’ body out of the rich man’s tomb and taken it to a resting place that was more suitable (in their view). The main body of the disciples, however, does not know this, and is astonished to find the tomb empty. The emotional distress and sensational nature of the disappearance instantly turn this story into the kind of rumor that spreads like fire through dried leaves, and within a few days, everyone in the region is talking about this bizarre turn of events.

The situation is ripe for Stage Two.

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Easter Special: How to Fake a Resurrection (Without Really Trying)

When I was a believer, I was frequently bothered by the inconsistencies and self-contradictions that I encountered in the Gospel, the Bible and Christianity in general. In these times of doubt, my one solid anchor was the doctrine of the Resurrection. All else might be in doubt, and some things might even be wrong, but the Resurrection couldn’t be fake, because it changed the lives of the disciples, and they wouldn’t have died for a lie. Right?

That was the one piece of evidence that no skeptic could explain, not with a “swoon theory,” not with a “disciples stole the body” (in front of armed guards? without anyone finding out?) theory—in short, not without a miracle at least as big as the one they were trying to explain away. And as long as the Resurrection was real, everything else was OK. I could just ask Jesus all my questions when I saw Him.

Unfortunately, I was wrong. There is at least one perfectly plausible explanation for the Resurrection that would produce exactly the evidence we have today, including the invincible faith of the apostles and martyrs. And it wouldn’t take a miracle to pull it off.

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