It’s Resurrection Day, Forget the Bunny!

April 7, 2012

Since, it’s Resurrection Day, I figure I would make an easy post and spend time with the family.   The following is a collection of objections and answers to the resurrection of Jesus.  It has been a slowly growing as I read more  and add things to the Pile.   I will cite the authors and books at the end.  Many books have the similar information.
The Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:17 “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins”  As a Christian, EVERYTHING hangs on the resurrection.  Everything.  IT has turned many skeptics into followers.  I hope this will add to your faith and make it stronger.

OBJECTION 1: IT IS UNREASONABLE TO BELIEVE IN THE RESURRECTION

Because of the beliefs of many atheists and skeptics it is the last option that they would accept because of their presuppositions about the Bible, miracles, or belief in the existence of God.

ANSWER:

1. Because the resurrection was a physical resurrection and not just a spiritual one, there are many difficulties to faking the resurrection by stealing the body or some other means of trickery.  You have the following points.  Wrapped in a linen cloth and about 100 pounds of spices.  (Mixed together they form a gummy substance) Placed in tomb with a large stone weighing anywhere from 2,000 to 4,000 pounds.  There were Roman guards placed at the tomb to guard against any chance of trickery.  A Roman seal was placed on the tomb that if broken, would call for an investigation and death by crucifixion of the one responsible.   If a Roman Guard left his post he would face strict punishment.    There must have been a good reason for the guards to flee.

2. The Biblical account of the resurrection has the women to be the first ones appearing at the tomb.  This seems to be issue if you believe that the claims of the resurrection were made up.  During the Biblical times women had no right to much anything, they were not given the ability to testify in court except in a few cases.  If someone wanted people to believe a lie that Jesus really was alive, then why weaken the argument with women.  The reason the women were the first to the tomb and to witness Jesus is perhaps, because it actually happened that way.

3. Another issue is the reaction of the disciples.  The disciples had scattered after the arrest of Jesus for fear of their own lives.  Annas the high priest had been asking questions about Jesus followers also.  They had locked themselves in a room in fear of persecution that Jesus had warned them about.  (John 15)  Jesus had appeared to them and shown them his hands and side.  (Proof)  What followed then was the transformation of their lives.  They went from hiding to boldly proclaiming the news of his resurrection.   They were also willing to face opposition, cynicism, ridicule, hardship, prison, death, and death.

4. After the resurrection, the Christian faith exploded and many Jews had become followers of Jesus.  In doing so they left several key tenants of their faith behind.  Below are a list of some of the major ones.

  • The animal sacrifice system.
  • The binding supremacy of the laws of Moses.
  • Strict monotheism to a belief in the Trinity.
  • The Holiness of the Sabbath.
  • Belief in a conquering messiah to a humble, servant in Jesus.

5. The conversion of “hardcore” skeptics in NT times.   There are 3 mentioned in the section.  The apostle Paul, James the half-brother of Jesus, and Thomas who was not with the disciples when Jesus appeared to them in the room.    Each of the 3 are listed with the scripture references  within the Bible that show their conversion.  Paul is of course the strongest example because he was a well-known figure and his letter to the Corinthians is dated the earliest written and  he is well-known outside to the Bible  many with his writings.

6. Only the resurrection would explain the growth and survival of the church.  It is well documented about the persecution of the Christians in the first century.  Nero was well-known for his hatred for the Christians and Nero blamed the burning of Rome on the Christians.  So, if the resurrection was fake and made up why would all the Jews and Gentiles have placed their lives in so much danger and trouble in less it was true?

7. There were too many appearances of Jesus to have the resurrection easily dismissed.   The 1 Corinthian letter from Paul lists the great number of people whom Jesus revealed himself too.  (Chapter 15 , also Acts 1:3)  At the time of Paul’s letter which is about 55-57 A.D.  Paul included that many of those witnesses were still alive.  This was most likely 20  years or so after the death and resurrection.  There would have been plenty of voices of opposition to Paul’s claim that Jesus had resurrected.

This proof reminds me of the Elvis or now, Michael Jackson example I have used for many years.  Imagine today that people started claiming that Elvis or Michael Jackson was not dead but had come back to life.  What if the number of people started growing and more and more people joined the band wagon.  All the families or government would have to do is open the casket or dig up the body to silence the critics.  One objection might be, “well the families wouldn’t want to do that.”  Maybe, but keep in mind that the government in Jesus day was not like that of today.  If they wanted to put an end to the Christian movement, all they had to do was produce the body.  They didn’t because they could not produce the body, it was gone.

OBJECTION 2: JESUS WAS NOT REALLY PHYSICALLY RESURRECTED FROM THE DEAD, BUT RATHER IT WAS HIS ESSENCE – SOME PART OF HIM THAT LIVED AMONG THEM.

Many times critics will claim that the disciples did not see a real physically resurrected Jesus but rather a spiritual one or something to the equivalent.

ANSWER:

This would imply that the disciples went on and on about the resurrection of Jesus dishonestly and new it was a lie.  Or at the least ALL had hallucinations of Jesus resurrection to believe it was real.    I will look at the second part of the last sentence in another Objection next.  In Paul’s letters to the churches he specifically uses the word “Soma” which is translated body.  His repeated use of the term implies very much that Jesus had a physical resurrection.   Rhodes lists the scriptures that show us Jesus had a special glorified resurrected body, in which I will list for reference.

  •    Luke 24:39 – See my hands and feet, touch me to see.
  • John 2:19-21 – Jesus told about destroying the temple in 3 days and building it back up again.
  • Luke 24:30, 24:42-43, John 21:12-13, Acts 1:4  – Jesus ate food  4 different times.
  • John 20:17, Matthew 28:9, Luke 24:39 – He was touched and handled by many different people.
  • 1 Corinthians 15:35-44 – Paul talks of the body that goes down into the grave, and the body that comes up.

OBJECTION 3: JESUS WAS NOT PHYSICALLY RESURRECTED BUT SEEN BY HIS FOLLOWERS IN A SPIRITUAL SENSE.

This objection comes from the objection of skeptic Keith Parson, where he notes that the famous scripture in 1 Corinthians 15:5-7 uses the word “ophthe” which has the meaning of either “seeing” with the literal eye or “seeing” with mind or spirit.  In other words because we do not know the clear meaning of that word, we can assume that it was a spiritual vision they saw and not a physical one.

ANSWER:

This objection does not fit well with the rest of the Bible and the use of others who saw the resurrected body of Jesus.    The numerous passages in the gospels as well as the other Pauline epistles.    It also does not work within the context of the same letter of Corinthians.  Paul also uses the phrase heaven vision to make a vision of a different type.

You can also look at the same answer above for more of the same evidence of Jesus having a physical resurrection and not just a spiritual one.

OBJECTION 4: THE DISCIPLES OR OTHER PEOPLE STOLE THE BODY OF JESUS, AND THE DISCIPLES ASSUMED HE HAD RISEN FROM THE DEAD.  Because we have tons of evidence that bodies don’t just rise from the dead or disappear into nothing or Heaven.  The only two options that we are left with is that someone stole the body or the tomb was not empty.

ANSWER:

There are several issues that make the likelihood of the disciples taking the body of Jesus.  Below are some listed from the first objection above.

Wrapped in a linen cloth and about 100 pounds of spices.  (Mixed together they form a gummy substance) Placed in tomb with a large stone weighing anywhere from 2,000 to 4,000 pounds.  There were Roman guards  placed at the tomb to guard against any chance of trickery.  A Roman seal was placed on the tomb that if broken, would call for an investigation and death by crucifixion of the one responsible.   If a Roman Guard left his post he would face strict punishment.    There must have been a good reason for the guards to flee.

It also is worth pointing out that the disciples were in no shape to steal His body.  There were hiding and on the run from the Jewish rulers.  It also goes back to the basic principle that “no sane person” would die for something they knew was a lie.  It was not worth all the trouble or persecution they received.

OBJECTION 5: THE FOLLOWERS OF JESUS HALLUCINATED THAT JESUS ROSE FROM THE DEAD.

ANSWER:

Hallucinations generally happen to individuals and not large groups or multiple people.  The 1 Corinthians 15 passage says that Jesus appeared to over 500 people at one time.  Did all these people have a hallucination at one time?  The answer is not likely.

Books Referenced:

McDowell, Josh; Evidence That Demands a Verdict, second edition.

Zacharias, Ravi; Can Man Live Without God

Sherrod, Chris; Faith, Fact, and Reason Study #4 Jesus is ALIVE

Rhodes, Ron; Answering Objections of Atheists, Agnostics, and Skeptics


The Universe is Intelligently Designed

October 28, 2011

Recently we looked at the Teleological Argument in biology in DNA.  As we continue the discussion on the Teleological Argument, I wanted to look at design in the universe.  No matter if you are looking at the solar system or the entire universe you can see design and intelligence.

When you are looking for signs of intelligent design there are 3 key factors that you will need: Contingency, Complexity, and Specification.   If something were designed we would expect to see evidence of contingency.  (Meaning it did not result from a meaningless unintelligent process.)  If something were designed , we would expect to see evidence of complexity. (With many working parts) And if something were designed, we would expect to see evidence of specificity. (A detailed, precise pattern commonly associated with intelligent causes.)  Just as we can see those 3 factors in DNA, we can also see them within the universe.

There are two levels at which you can look at intelligent design in the universe.  First it seems that earth is fine-tuned  for life within the realm of our  solar system.  There are many razor-thin factors that make life on earth possible.   Here are a few examples of what I am referring to.

1. Temperature – The earth is the perfect distance from sun.  If the earth was any closer or further away to the sun, life on earth would be out of the temperature range and not contingent for life.

2. Size – The earth size, rotational speed, atmosphere, and tilt are just right for life to exist on the earth.  If it were slightly different we would not be able to sustain life on earth.

3.  The moon – Without a moon that causes tides aerating oceans and oxygen for fish & plankton sea life would not be able to exist.  The tides also clean the oceans of trash and contaminates.  During the months following the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico scientists watched carefully the raw crude oil that was in the water.  After about a year had gone by the ocean had self cleaned itself and life was returning back to normal.   The moon also acts as a shield protecting the earth from various space debris that come close to the earth in the solar system.

4. Water – Without water life would not exist.  When NASA sends spacecraft to other places within our solar system they look for the presence of water or ice.  Water covers about 70% of the surface of the earth.   In connection with the temperature and atmosphere the water cycle would not be possible and would not make plant and animal life possible on the land.

5. Oxygen – Oxygen is the most plentiful element on the earth.  It makes up about 90% of the earths total weight.   (In water and the atmosphere)  Oxygen is not only needed for animal life to breathe but in the upper atmosphere paired with a 3rd Oxygen molecule we have Ozone.  The Ozone layer helps protect the earth from harmful radiation from the sun.  You are probably familiar with oxygen and carbon-dioxide cycle, where plant life breathes in CO2 and give off O2.  Animal life breathes in O2 and breathes out CO2.  The earth had to be perfectly balanced between plant and animal life in order for both to survive.  This principle is called the Anthropic Principal.

6. Gravity – Gravity is the unexplained force in nature.  It is present all over the universe.  It controls the rotation of the planets around the sun and the rotation of the moons around the planets.  On a larger scale, it controls the movement of all the galaxies in the universe.  If Gravity was slightly different the sun would burn to fast and we not have a sun to heat the earth.

7. Lighting – Lightning happens on average about 100,000 times a day around the planet.  All plants need nitrogen as food to grow and when lightning strikes the earth it takes nitrogen from the air and deposits it in the soil.

8. Jupiter – Jupiter is the earth’s shield.  Because it is the largest planet in our solar system it acts similar to the moon as a shield protecting us from  comets, space debris, asteroids that may come in a path with the earth.  The large gravity of  Jupiter acts like a magnet and pulls these things towards Jupiter.

9. Galaxies – In order for life to be possible we must be in the right type of galaxy with the appropriate types of stars and heavenly bodies.  No only the right type of galaxy, but also the right place within the galaxy.

What happens when you try to assign a probability to all these factors.  Roger Penrose, professor at Oxford, says it is an impossibility because the number of digits would be greater than the total number of elementary particles in the know universe.  The level of precision dwarfs our human comprehension.

One objection to the idea that the solar system is fine-tuned and intelligently designed is that it only appears to be at the surface, but that evolution can explain for the illusion of design.  In other words, it only looks intelligently design, but in reality it is only how things have come to be.  Darwinian evolutionist say that just because we exist in the universe doesn’t mean that we are special and valued.They contend that if the tape of evolution were rewound through time that it is possible that something else may have evolved differently and they two would question there existence.  Too bad we don’t have access to that evolutionary tape.

Think about this example from apologist, Sean McDowell.  Imagine you purchase tickets to a football game.  Upon arrival at the stadium you find your seat and sit down to watch the game.  After talking for a while with your neighbors you slowly discover that everyone in your seat section is sitting in alphabetic order, and greater still after more investigation you learn that everyone in the whole stadium is seated alphabetically.  The uniqueness of this grand scheme demands an explanation.  Who did this?  Someone was playing with the computer perhaps?  Philosopher John Leslie uses a firing squad illustration.  Imagine you were standing before a firing squad of 50 gunmen.  The order is given to fire, but for some reason you are still alive and not shot.  Your survival demands an explanation and so does fine-tuning.

Another objection by atheist, Richard Dawkins who admits that there is no present natural explanation for the fine-tuning of the universe, but claims that hardly accounts for God.  Dawkins argues that accepting the design argument leads to “Who designed the designer?”  The problem with this argument is this, can science only accept things if they can explain them?  Or if they have explanations?  Science must come to a point that they accept what evidence they do have and deny the request for further proof.   For example; an archaeologist who finds a ancient object that looks like a arrow head or a tool for digging.  Even if she/he cannot explain the origin or the identity of the designer.  If the evidence for design is compelling she could not dismiss the design hypothesis.

Critics also argue that if the laws of physics were different then some other non-carbon based life form could have existed.  Besides being entirely speculative, many of the fine-tuning instances and arguments are not based or rely on being carbon-based.

This brings us to the second level at which you can look at intelligent design in the universe.  Why are the laws of physics defined as what they are?  Why is the expansion rate of the universe (the cosmological constant) what it is?  What about the 4 fundamental forces of nature?  (Gravity, Electromagnetic force, The strong and weak nuclear force)   Just as we see in DNA in life that there had to be a programmer to put in the code for life, where did the code for the laws of physics come from?

Darwinian evolutionists are trying to answer the intelligent design argument with the idea of the Multiverse or the Grand Design, which has been popularized by Stephen Hawking in his latest book entitled The Grand Design.  Using the standard model in physics and other theories, like string theory, they are attempting to take our universes laws of physics and show that it is basically nothing special in a realm where multiple universes exist.  Is your head hurting yet?  I will spend more time explaining this in a upcoming post.

As always, questions, comments, and discussions are welcome.


Objections to the Cosmological Argument

October 13, 2011

Talk to the hand!

In my last post I introduced the Cosmological Argument to you and in this post I want to address some objections or questions that may come up from those you share with.  If you missed the Cosmological Argument click here to read it first.

The most likely response to the Cosmological Argument that you may get is a question, “Who made God?”   This is a key question in Richard Dawkins’ book The God Delusion.    Apologist Sean McDowell notes “While rhetorically powerful, this objection misses the point of the argument.  The claim is not that everything has a cause.  Rather, everything that begins to exist has a cause.”  Think about it, if God was caused, then you would have an infinite regress without a beginning.  Remember our conclusion from the last post.

Since the universe is physical, finite in space, has a beginning, and slowly running out of energy we can then say the cause had to be outside the physical, (i.e. non-physical) infinite, timeless, changeless, and powerful.  Sounds a little like the God the Bible describes.

While this doesn’t point to a particular God, like that of the Bible, the character traits that are given this creator/beginner are the same as the God of the Bible.  God is non-physical, infinite, timeless, changeless, and powerful.  This type of being does not need a cause.

Another objection you might hear from someone is that the universe caused itself to come into existence without the aid of anything outside itself.  This is as it sounds, absurd.  It that were possible, why wouldn’t other things come into existence all by themselves also?  Why don’t we have people or basketballs randomly appearing in the universe?  The laws of nature cannot explain how this might be, this is the ultimate magicians rabbit out of the hat trick.

One last objection to the Cosmological Argument might be to the premise that the universe does not have a beginning.  Someone may want to challenge your statement that you make on a beginning.  They may point out that the recent work of Stephen Hawking, a brilliant Astrophysicist and mathematician.   Hawking says that the beginning of the universe can be avoided because time has been rounded off at the final moments before the Big Bang Singularity.  The way that Hawking got this to work in mathematical equations was with the use of imaginary numbers combined with Einsteins equations.  Unfortunately these numbers do not work out when you replace the imaginary numbers with real numbers in real life.  “But if the universe can be eternal and uncaused,” as Sean McDowell states “then why can’t God?”   What is most unreasonable is to suppose that the universe arose, uncaused from nothing.

As always, questions, comments, discussions are welcome.  If you can think of any other objects feel free to post them in a comment.