I don’t think much of the guys at Answers in Genesis. That’s Ken Ham’s Young Earth Creationism (the Earth is less than 10,000 years old and the Bible is literally true) outfit. Ken is notable, of course, for publicly stating that no amount of evidence would change his mind.
Normally, I wouldn’t care about what is posted there, but this article caught my eye (H/T to the Sensuous Curmudgeon). The article is titled “Proving God’s Existence: Would You Believe If He Showed Up at Your Door?” I don’t encourage clicking the link. AiG tracks where you have been, if you aren’t careful with your browsing.
With all of that out of the way, let’s talk about this briefly. Nathan Ham opens with this discussion.
In 1985 a popular debate on this subject was held between Reformed theologian Greg Bahnsen and atheist Gordon Stein. Stein was asked what would “constitute adequate evidence for God’s existence?” He answered, “If that podium suddenly rose into the air five feet, stayed there for a minute and then dropped right down again, I would say that is evidence of a supernatural because it would violate everything we knew about the laws of physics and chemistry.”
That’s a terrible view of evidence. Heck, I once saw, in person, David Copperfield walk through a six inch plate of armor steel. Well, OK, I didn’t see him do it… it was his shadow. But that’s still better evidence of the supernatural than a podium rising a few feet. Of course, psychics have been using that same technique for more than a hundred years. Will Nathan (or Stein) admit that is evidence for ghosts or spirits? Somehow I doubt it.
Any halfway intelligent person could think of a couple of ways in which the podium might be lifted. Let’s just say, I wouldn’t take it to James Randi.
Some people, especially atheists, tend to think that supernatural phenomenon like miracles are absolutely necessary for proving the existence of God. But some people will never be convinced, in spite of seeing miracles, as many incidents in biblical history show:
First of all, what is a supernatural phenomenon?
Supernatural:(Of a manifestation or event) attributed to some force beyond scientific understanding or the laws of nature:
or: Manifestations or events considered to be of supernatural origin, such as ghosts.
So again, that pulpit moving is not a supernatural event. It’s not even close. I would tend to submit that even something beyond our current scientific understanding isn’t supernatural. Against the laws of nature? OK, if god can arrange for all the atoms in my car to spontaneously change to atoms of gold… or if a religious person could cause that to happen with a prayer… that is something that I would consider beyond the laws of nature. We know how it can be done, but it requires an epic amount of energy and our control isn’t that good.
However, it’s not evidence of “God”. It’s evidence that SOMETHING has that ability. In terms of a miracle like that, what’s the difference between god, Satan, the Flying Spaghetti Monster, Odin, King Midas, Cthulhu, Allah, or aliens with a very powerful cyclotron orbiting our planet in a stealthed spaceship? Just because something happens doesn’t imply who/what did it.
So miracles aren’t evidence of god.
Then Nathan lists some miracles in the Bible that are “evidence” of supernatural/god. He mentions fire from heaven (1 Kings 18:39), Lazarus (John 11), and Peter curing the lame (Acts 4) as well as some others.
Honestly, Nathan hasn’t thought this through very well. I suspect it’s a very, very bad case of confirmation bias. He even specifically mentions the point I just made, apparently not realizing that it undermines his argument.
In Matthew 12:24, the Pharisees even say that because Jesus drove out demons, he must be Beelzebub, prince of demons. The Pharisees were the smart ones. Tricks aren’t evidence of god. Even miracles aren’t evidence that Jesus was god. They are just evidence that something can cause miracles.
Of course, that’s all assuming that everything in the Bible is true, which I don’t think any rational person can say with a straight face. The Bible is not self-authenticating. There is significant evidence from sources other than the Bible that many main points of the Bible (including the events around Jesus’ birth, the Exodus, the Resurrection, the Flood, etc) just aren’t true. And I have to mention that the Bible itself is internally inconsistent. Go ahead, tell me who was the first person at the tomb.
Nathan spends the next few chapters talking how about some people were swayed by the miracles in the Bible and some people weren’t swayed by the miracles in the Bible. And that’s fine. In a literary sense, I’m sure it’s a good discussion. W can argue all day long about whether Bruce Wayne was having sex with Dick Grayson. It’s still just a comic book.
I do want to point out one sentence were, once again, Nathan shows either his lack of knowledge of the Bible or his charlatan-like attitude toward his readers.
God commanded Moses in Exodus 4:4-9 to show miraculous signs to Israel so that they might believe God sent him, and eventually they did. However, Pharaoh with his hardened heart, despite seeing all those wonders, still chased after them through the Red Sea to his own destruction.
I’m curious as to why Nathan doesn’t mention WHY the pharaoh’s heart was hardened. According to the same story book (Exodus 9:12)
12 But the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart and he would not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the Lord had said to Moses.
Wait a minute. So Nathan Ham thinks that miracles are not always a reliable cure for unbelief and as evidence he cites a story where his god purposefully caused someone to reject said miracles so that god could visit more plagues and kill many of the people of Egypt?!??!?!
Nathan then talks about what “proof” would be needed to verify that any god exists. Again, I would not use the word proof here, but evidence. But that’s a nit pick.
I do think that Nathan (via Richard Dawkins) has the right of it. A giant Jesus (hundreds of feet high) with a voice that could shatter mountains might not even work.
Even people who aren’t skeptics have some limits. Things like a giant Jesus striding around South Florida stretches our credibility… even of Christians. While Nathan is speaking of atheists and agnostics, I know plenty of people who are devote Christians who would struggle with the real existence of Jesus/God staring them in the face. Especially if he said something like, “Why are you being such an asshole to gay people?”
Think of it like this. If you live in Oregon and your kid comes to you and says, it’s raining so hard I can’t see the driveway. You’d probably believe him. You know your kid is trustworthy and it does rain that hard there.
But what if your kid came in and said the same thing, but you lived in Phoenix? Even if you thought your kid trustworthy, you’d probably double check. Why? Because you don’t expect that kind of rain in Phoenix. Sure, it happens, but pretty rarely.
It’s not even about evidence, it’s about a credible relationship with what you know to be true. And let’s face it, the Christian god, even if he does exist, hasn’t been seen for nearly 2,000 years. No miracles have been done since the Bible… although, there’s no real evidence that the Biblical miracles are real either. There’s enough problems with the Bible to throw doubt on those extraordinary events.
Think about this, with all the hoaxes, even the very recent ones, what would it take to convince the average person that Big Foot is real? A picture or video just won’t do anymore. It’s much too easy to fake that kind of evidence now. We’re going to nee d a body, preferably live, but dead and undecayed will do. We’re going to need dozens of scientists from many independent labs with genetic tests of all kinds.
Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence… and the existence of a deity is the most extraordinary claim of them all.
I do find it somewhat humorous that Nathan Ham takes a shot at the ID movement, saying:
But if our apologetic method does not point people to Christ when arguing for the existence of God, we are no different from the Intelligent Design movement.
As Uncle George would say, “Oh myyyy!”
The rest is all about if god showed up at your door, would it be enough to convince you. Of course Nathan uses this as a stepping stone to get saved.
But consider this: God did show up on the earth
No, he didn’t.
—in the person of Jesus Christ—
For which there is no evidence that he even existed.
and worked many miracles,
That are totally unverified, unverifiable and in the same book that says that both Heli (Luke 3:23) AND Jacob (Matthew 1:16) are the father of Joseph.
and although the world still dates history by His supernatural birth,
Certainly not evidence of his existence (or his “supernatural birth”). This is simply because of the amount of control that the early church had over the people at the time.
some skeptics still refuse to accept any documentation or biblical evidence
The Bible is not self-authenticating, contains too many mistakes, and too many contradictions to be a reliable source. And there is NO other documentation.
for His resurrection (Acts 1:3).
Jesus was born of a virgin,
Really? Of course, talking snakes…
but they accused him of being an illegitimate child (John 8:41).
His mother was unwed… therefore illegitimate, by definition.
The wise men followed a star that pointed to the exact location of the Christ child (Matthew 2:9),
For which there is no other evidence at all
but Herod wanted to kill Him.
Which makes no sense, because Herod died around the second half of March in 4 B.C. Since Herod was the bad guy of the story, Jesus had to have been born prior to that date and enough prior for the Wise Men to get to him.
On the other hand, Herod would not have ordered a census to be taken. The census (which we have outside evidence for) was ordered by Quirinius. Josephus says that the census was 37 years after the battle at Actium, which was September 2, 31 BCE. That means that the census took place in 6AD. Roman sources (not Biblical) say that Quirinius was legate for 6 years (6-12AD).
Luke says the census was the reason to travel to Bethlehem. But, by then Herod had been dead for 10 years.
In radiant glory, angels announced His birth to the shepherds, but He died in naked shame on a cross.
Much of which is contradictory, exists only in the Bible and is counter to what we know from other sources at the time.
There is plenty of evidence for God’s existence in the creation
No, there’s not.
and every person already knows that God exists.
Then why the hell do you people have to knock on every door, berate every passer-by, send flocks of moron minions to every website, and otherwise annoy the hell out of us by presenting YOUR version of god?
Skeptics suppress that knowledge, their understanding of the evidence, and their own consciences in unrighteousness.
Yes, I suppress knowledge by actually looking at the evidence. I am unrighteous because I don’t lie to support my beliefs.
This guy kills me.
Here’s the thing. And this is critically important. Even if god did exist. Even if he did come and provide an almost unbelievable amount of evidence supporting the claim that he is a deity. Even if it was shown beyond a shadow of a doubt that the god of the Bible is 100% real…
I would know that he exists. I would know that he has power (of some kind). I would know that he is who he says he is…
But I still wouldn’t worship him. Because, let’s face it, according to hos own book, he’s a whiny, petulant, tin-plated dictator who is the most abusive parent ever in the history of history. The god of the Bible isn’t worthy of worship.
I, atheist, unbeliever, skeptic, heathen that I am have infinitely more respect for humans, life, freedom, and love than the god of the Bible ever has.
 Which is something the religious and creationists can’t understand. If it’s powerful, it must be god. Even the Bible mentions that the Pharoah’s magicians could do the same tricks as God’s.
 Of course, that never actually happened. There’s no evidence that Israelites were slaves in Egypt. There’s no evidence that magic allowed the exodus. There’s no evidence that a large chunk of Egypt’s army was destroyed by the sea crashing in on them. However, there is evidence of Egyptian army outposts up and down the Sinai Peninsula. There’s no evidence of millions of people running around the Sinai Peninsula, but there is evidence of small groups of huts all around the time of the supposed exodus.