200 QUESTIONS FOR SCEPTICS AND SEARCHERS
We all have questions about our own existence, whether or not God exists and who Jesus actually was.
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Unfortunately, many people don’t know where to start. They either need to watch 20 long Youtube videos with complicated content or read philosophical or historical books which are very time consuming to read.
I have put this together to provide lots of starting points for your own thinking, conversations and research.
The topics covered are by no means exhaustive but are quite broad and touch on a number of issues. Questions reach us where we are at and are useful for dialogues. Questions regarding Jesus start around question 141 while broader biblical issues around 125.
Whether you’re a sceptic who hasn’t been questioned by Christians much, someone who is searching for reasons for and against God or someone after a deeper meaning to life or a Christian who wants to deepen their knowledge of a defense of Christianity and where to start in conversations with sceptics, this reference piece will hopefully be something which will assist you.
The categories covered include existence and consciousness, the universe we are in, is Christianity evil and God hidden, morals, mathematics, logic, transcendent beauty and truth, more on the mind and consciousness, a look at who Jesus was and New Testament reliability.
EXISTENCE AND CONSCIOUSNESS
1. Do you exist?
2. Why is there something rather than nothing?
3. What comes from nothing?
4. What’s your purpose?
5. Do you have intentional states of consciousness?
6. Why do you have intent and purpose if you come from a purposeless, accidental, chemical process?
7. How do immaterial concepts and purposes come from purely accidental material chemicals?
8. Are your thoughts accidents?
9. If all that exists is matter, why do people worry about their purpose, mental and spiritual health?
10. Do you trust your mind even if it’s a spin off from an unguided chemical process?
11. If evolution rewound and started again, do you think you or something similar would exist?
12. Are you different to a bag of meat comprised of blood, water and bones fizzing away to chemical reactions?
13. Is your brain thinking different to wind blowing through the leaves on a tree where physical processes act on physical objects?
14. Science only tells you what is so how do you derive an ought (what ought to be done, questions of value, ethics etc) from an is?
15. If you’re the result of chance and chaos, do you mean what you say and think, willing to say what you say and to do what you do?
16. How can evil exist if objective moral values do not exist?
17. If there’s no free will (any sort of will not maximal autonomy which is not realistic and claims you have no factors impacting your will whatsoever), why blame Christians for their immoral acts caused by their “god” gene when they couldn’t help it and “danced to their genes”?
18. Can Christians help being Christian?
19. Is it moral to alter the genetic make up of a foetus which hypothetically could be shown is likely to grow up into a Christian unless something is done?
20. Do you accept there is a big difference between maximal autonomy and having no alterable will or intent in a deterministic (think purely robotic and 100% predetermined) fashion, while allowing for a possibility truth could lie in the middle?
21. Do objective moral values exist (note this has nothing to do with whether or not atheists can be good people or not but whether any objective moral values exist- let’s not confuse ontology (existence) v epistemology (how we come to know something) )?
22. If all truth is relative, is it true to say that?
23. If all truth is relative, is anything objectively wrong?
24. If morals are illusory why jail someone who doesn’t hold your illusions?
25. How would you answer someone who said there is no good, no evil, nothing but pitiless indifference (Dawkins)?
26. What is the difference between someone wearing sandals with socks or football shorts with a tie and doing something immoral?
27. How are humans equal if they have all evolved differently and have different random (aka unguided) brain chemistry?
28. If humans evolve through their own “intelligent design” into transhumans can transhumans kill humans and feel less guilty about it as they are killing a less evolved species?
29. Is there intrinsic worth to human life?
30. How is a lion killing a zebra or a shark killing a seal different from an elite human killing an inferior one?
31. What are human rights if we are the result of an accidental, unguided process which ultimately started with nothing?
32. If there’s no right and wrong, why protest?
33. If we rewound the tape evolution, started again and by some fluke you or similar began to exist, would you or a similar organism have the same set of moral values?
34.What’s wrong with killing or discriminating against humans who are less evolved and won’t help humanity flourish?
35. Is there anything immoral with a scientific caste system where an elite group of people modify the genes of the next generation according to different classes as in Brave New World?
36. What’s wrong with the desire of some eugenicists of the past to kill disabled people?
37. How is supporting the weak helping with survival of the fittest?
38. If it’s all about survival of the fittest why not go kill deformed people or less evolved groups of people?
39. What are equality, justice and love if there’s no objective moral values?
40. How is self giving love noble in an instance where it disadvantages someone with superior genes to help someone who is inferior?
41. How is forgiveness beautiful?
42. If everything is about propagating our DNA why aren’t we more like rats who are much better at propagating their DNA and don’t waste much time on music, maths or art?
43. Why be so harsh on someone who holds different moral standards to you?
44. Why expect someone to listen to their conscience or assume the unguided brain chemistry driving their conscience is the same as yours?
45. If morality is based on how many people an act makes happy, would it be moral to rape kids if it made the everyone happy except the victim or if the vast majority of humans were happy killing disabled people as they felt it enabled them to flourish by focusing their time on progressing humanity further rather than assisting disabled people who were unable to innovate?
46. Why stop at morality meaning human flourishing and not transhuman flourishing?
47. Why do we argue about morals and immoral behaviour as if there is something real, serious and objective at stake?
48. Why pose the Euthyphro dilemma (is something good because God says it or does God say something because it is good?) when it has been repeatedly refuted by philosophers who have argued you cannot separate God and “the Good” as they are one and the same, inextricably linked?
49. What’s the difference between breaking a rule of logic, miscalculating a mathematical formula and raping, lying or killing?
50. If lying helps you survive or propagate your DNA or helps your company escape a financial fraud which then enables them to continue to alter human DNA for the good of humanity, is it wrong?
51. If you have advanced and superior genes and raping helps propagate your DNA is it wrong?
52. How can you have moral progress if there are no objective moral values or no objective benchmark?
53. Is child torture and rape really wrong and will it ultimately matter in the long run (beyond a few generations) if you do such things?
LOGIC, MATHS, MUSIC, ART- TRANSCENDENT BEAUTY AND TRUTH
54. How does an immaterial purpose or intent come from a chemical accident with no intent behind it?
55. Does anything immaterial exist such as a necessary truth, unembodied mind or abstract object?
56. If matter is all there is, what are laws of logic, mathematics and morals?
57. Why expect similar laws of logic, morals and maths between Swedish people and Japanese people when they have evolved differently and have different random brain chemistry operating their thoughts?
58. If your eyes evolve to the sun, your body to the air and sun, does your mind similarly evolve to necessary mathematical and moral truths or “mental” air?
59. Why is mathematics considered the language of God?
60. Why did mathematicians of the past with ground breaking theories act as if they had discovered, not created something?
61. Is arithmetic objectively right and immaterial?
62. Why are music, art and mathematics beautiful?
63. Would aliens or beings more intelligent than us use arithmetic?
64. If you can’t envision a square circle or a married bachelor, why would you then expect the logically impossible of God?
65. How would assuming the universe is rationally intelligible, assuming the principle of uniformity can be practised alongside rules of logic and mathematics help when matter and unguided chemical processes are all there is?
66. If everything is unguided and based on chance why assume tomorrow is like today and why hasn’t the world blown up sooner?
67. If a fish doesn’t wonder why it’s wet, why do you crave for something greater and more meaningful than this world?
68. If you’re hungry that’s a sign food exists, if you’re thirsty that’s a sign water exists, if you’re lonely that’s a sign people exist, what if you’re craving meaning outside what this world can offer or longing for a deeper satisfaction in life?
69. If we only accept what can be proven by science, why do we accept logical and mathematical proofs, metaphysical truths such as there are other minds or the past wasn’t created five minutes ago, ethical beliefs about statements of value, aesthetic judgements or even science itself which presupposes unprovable assumptions some scientists hold to such as that only what science shows is true is true?
70. Do you realise you are committing the genetic fallacy if you say a view is false because of how it originated without showing the view itself is false?
MORE ON CONSCIOUSNESS AND MIND
71. If consciousness is fundamental according to quantum physics as claimed by Nobel Laureate, Eugene Wigner and eminent quantum theorist John von Neumann remarked that “all real things are contents of consciousness”, why do you view consciousness as an accidental by-product of evolution and spin off from the material world rather than the other way around?
72. If in quantum physics electrons behave differently when observed, does your mind define reality in any way?
73. If we live in a purely deterministic universe, how do you explain the observer effect or Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle in quantum mechanics?
74. Is a product of millions and millions of genetic copying mistakes and accidents able to assess ultimate meaning or why we are here or think it has a purpose or even seem preoccupied with the idea that it does have a purpose?
75. Why are our brains greyish and mostly empty space, yet we perceive colours which are caused by physical events but not themselves physical events?
76. Are your mind and brain the same and if so why do you have a single consciousness over time despite replacing all your brain cells many times?
78. Which part of your brain helps give off a unified vision for your eyes?
77. How do you explain the number of cases in science where people have shown intelligence and consciousness with little or no brain? https://www.researchgate.net/publication/263293912_Consciousness_without_cortex_A_hydranencephaly_family_survey
79. Can you control your mind or actions?
80. Why meditate if you can’t control your mind?
81. Why talk about gratitude and gratitude journals when ultimately you have no one to be grateful to given everything is unguided and based on chemicals?
82. If impersonal cosmic energy created you, how do you have a personal nature?
83. What is the difference between an impersonal energy forming the world around us and your life and microwave energy heating up your food or an electricity current charging your phone?
84. How can energy have a moral or personal nature?
85. If someone says you are fizzing away to chemical processes in your mind you have no control over, how would you respond?
86. If we have evolved to take traits useful for survival not necessarily truth, how can we be confident our minds can discern truth if usefulness and truth are not identical?
87. If common sense survival is about predators and prey why do we worry about atoms and molecules or the meaning of life?
88. How can we confuse possibility with probability when making decisions?
89. What’s the difference between reasonable and unreasonable faith?
90. If my thoughts are the product of naturalism alone, my beliefs are programmed into me to help me survive and I believe naturalism is true, how do I know I don’t just believe that and everything else I consider true not just for survival reasons but also because they are true?
THE FINE TUNING AND EXISTENCE OF LIFE AND THE UNIVERSE
91. Does chance flip a coin or does chance reflect probability of outcomes when a coin is flipped?
92. Does the universe exist in the necessity of it’s own nature or does it have an explanation through an external cause?
93. If the universe began to exist (Big Bang theory and mathematically you can’t have an infinite regress or else today would never come), did it come from nothing?
94. If the beginning of the universe represents the beginning of space and time, would it make sense the explanatory cause is timeless, spaceless, immaterial and personal (can’t have an abstract object in a causal relationship and the effect does not unstoppably and repeatedly flow from the cause in this case)?
95. Why ask who created God if God is by definition, beginningless and uncaused?
96. If everything is contingent on something which is contingent, how did today come?
97. Are we the right distance from the sun on an earth rotating on the right angle, with protons and electrons in our world precisely balanced, with life permitting gravitational and electromagnetic constants, with a flawless concentration of sulphur, the cosmological constant unable to be different by 1 part in 1⁰¹²⁰ within a universe expanding in a precisely life permitting rate which came about by a precise balance of chemicals all by chance? https://www.discovery.org/m/securepdfs/2018/12/List-of-Fine-Tuning-Parameters-Jay-Richards.pdf
98. How would you respond to atheist Sir Fred Hoyle who claimed a “common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a super intellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as with chemistry and biology”?
99. If someone always got a perfect set of cards in poker for their whole life in a particular casino with a particular dealer, would you say it is what it is by necessity or would you say the card dealer is favouring them?
100. If there is order, structure and complexity in our universe, why claim there is no design whatsoever and why try critique theists by using occam’s razor when your explanation around this supposed design is a near infinite amount of universes you have no evidence for and would have to by some fine tuning device be sufficiently different from one another on variables which need to be finely tuned for life so that one hits the jackpot and permits life?
101. Did you come from a rock or pond scum mixed with time and chance?
102. Are you a pure Neo Darwinian evolutionist who thinks all is based on randomness and chance or an evolutionist who factors in process structuralism or evo devo whereby in built natural laws drive similar or somewhat convergent outcomes across different lines of evolution meaning the process is not entirely random? If evolution is chemically constrained that would mean it is not fully random or unguided https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0022519303931523
103. If evolution is all chance based, why do we have so many similar types of convergent outcomes across different lines of evolution?
104. Does a physical object with no consciousness or intelligence produce intelligence and consciousness with enough time and chance?
105. Do natural laws and order exist?
THE IDEA OF A HIDDEN OR EVIL GOD
106. What is wrong with an accident going out of existence and how can there be evil if there are no objective moral values?
107. Can your character grow through suffering?
108. Why examine Christian consistency (the entire worldview belief system) on the problem of evil without talking about the cross of Christ and why assume the evil actions of people who claim to be Christians but deviate from the way of Christ (sometimes by not admitting they were wrong or need a Saviour) disprove Christianity when Christianity is based on Christ, his work rooted in history and our need for him to save and change us?
109. Why do we define evil on non Christian terms (purely focused on man and emotional experience) to say why God could not possibly exist in Christian terms, failing to take into consideration the whole Christian worldview which includes an afterlife, the death of Christ on the cross, God’s willingness for us to grow in dependence and trust in Him while highlighting that the knowledge of God is an incommensurable good which far surpasses any grief in this world?
110. What makes you think if God exists it would be more important to God only that we know 100% He exists (even if we hate Him!) over that we come to know Him through a loving and humble relationship?
111. What sort of evidence would you need to see to enter a loving and humble relationship with God, what sort of evidence would make you hate God more even if it showed you God existed and what sort of additional “evidence” for God would you consider a hallucination or coincidence?
112. How do you explain the creativity, love, beauty and intelligence in the world alongside all the evil and hate?
113. What do you make of the following from atheist Albert Camus in The Rebel: An Essay on Man in Revolt? “Christ the god-man suffers too, with patience. Evil and death can no longer be entirely imputed to him since he suffers and dies. The night on Golgotha is so important in the history of man only because, in its shadows, the divinity ostensibly abandoned its traditional privilege, and lived through to the end, despair included, the agony of death.”
114. If God is on a different plane of existence would you expect him to view your standards and expectations as central?
115. If God gives life why can’t He take it?
116. If God exists on multiple planes of existence although we exist on one why couldn’t He shift us from one to another and have a different perspective to us who only exist on a more confined plane of existence?
117. How could God show his mercy, love, forgiveness, patience, purity, justice and truth properly in a world with no evil?
118. What emotional reasons could someone have to not want to be a Christian?
119. Why would you want to be with God after you die if you hate him?
120. Could it be possible for God to have morally sufficient reasons to allow (not cause) evil?
121. Are we really good people?
122. How would you respond to bad things only ever happened to good people when Jesus died on the cross and it was voluntary for Jesus?
123. What would you think of a religion which had a guillotine or electric chair as their symbol?
124. If God forgives some people for no real reason with no justice or wrath being shown to either the wrongdoer or another person who is punished for the wrongdoer’s sin, how can God be just and pure?
125. Would a loving and perfect God really not judge or punish hateful, lustful, greedy, deceitful, powerhungry, murderous and envious people or at least expect some type of punishment for sin?
126. Do you know the difference between Old Testament slavery, Roman slavery and the slavery which took place in the US or do you assume it all refers to the same thing?
127. Have you considered the fact Jewish cities in the Old Testament acted as refuges for runaway slaves who had previously been kidnapped or stolen (Deut. 23:15–16)?
128. Why always mention Old Testament laws which were treaties or compromises (as noted by scholars John Walton and Brent Sandy) in some cases (to show how fallen man couldn’t even meet imperfect compromises and desperately needed a saviour) and not refer to the whole Christian worldview by referring to the cross of Christ or New Testament expectations as well?
129. Are you aware Paul teaches slave traders (people who kidnap or steal and re sell slaves) will not inherit the kingdom of God (1 Tim 1:10)?
130. Why in all their comments on the Bible and slavery, do sceptics never quote Exodus 21:16 which states “Whoever steals a man and sells him, and anyone found in possession of him, shall be put to death”?
131. Are you aware many scholars argue the Old Testament takes on a more eastern approach to writing, going around in a circle to show what prophets, kings and priests cannot achieve what God requires, implying that only the Messiah can?
132. How does free will exist without any potential for hurt or suffering?
133. How meaningful would you find a world in which you had no will and were 100% controlled?
134. Why do humans seem so capable of murder, a desire to be tyrants, lust, betrayal, greed, envy and deceit?
135. Other than rules in society and self interested reasons such as what others will think of them, what stops most people from doing wrong?
136. If Jesus shows some of the Old Testament laws exist due to “hardness of heart” (Matt. 19:8) and thus as scholars (eg. Walton, Sandy) highlight, take on more of a treaty or legal collection form than a portrayal of an ideal in order to show how far from God we are and how desperately we need a Messiah, why do atheists often treat it as if Christians treat all the Old Testament laws as a perfect ideal?
137. If the New Testament says the old covenant is abolished and many of the Old Testament prophecies fulfilled (Heb. 8:8–13), why do so many sceptics love to go to the Old Testament first to discredit Christianity rather than discussing the person and life of Jesus?
138. What do you make of the statement in an old gospel tract which hypothetically states all the world gathered together to kill God in anger for all the evil in the world, only to realise He had already paid the price?
139. Are you aware Christians believe the Old Testament laws are comprised of ceremonial laws fulfilled in Christ (eg. Col. 2:16–17), judicial laws which applied in a certain geo political context only and moral laws which still have relevance today?
140. Are you aware the Bible contains many different genres and not all are to be read the same way?
141. Why does virtually no one worship any of the other Jewish “Messiahs” from Jesus’ day anymore given there were a few and some had large following during their lifetime such as Simon bar Kokhba who died in approx 135 AD?
142. How have so many people throughout history turned from hating Jesus to being filled with His love and what would it look like if your life was filled with the love of Jesus?
143. Why did Jesus call Himself, even as acknowledged by highly sceptical scholars (this title is attested multiple times, barely used outside the gospels etc), the Son Man ,which comes from Dan. 7:13–14 where a co-ruler with God is given dominion, power, glory and comes in the clouds when only God does that in the Old Testament?
144. Jesus was charged with blasphemy for saying he was the “Son of Man” as he put himself on God’s level (Mark 14:60–64). Was he blaspheming or was he divine?
145. Why does Jesus use Old Testament passages such as Isaiah 8:13–15 and Psalm 8:2 in Luke 20:18 and Matthew 21:16 which refer to Yahweh if He never thought He was God?
146. Why does Jesus call Himself the “I AM” in Greek in Matt. 14:27 when this title is reserved for God in Exodus 3:14 (also John 8:58)?
147. Why do even the earliest manuscripts of Matthew show Jesus said to baptise in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit (Matt. 28:19) if Jesus never thought he was God like the Father or the Spirit?
148. Are you aware that the New Testament has by far the most and earliest manuscripts out of any major work in antiquity with approx. 5,800 Greek manuscripts, 10,000 Latin manuscripts and approx. 8,000 in other languages such as Coptic, Syriac etc compared to 3 manuscripts of Tacitus, 7 of Plato, 10 of Julius Caesar, 49 of Aristotle, 75 of Herodotus, 200 of Suetonius and 1758 of Homer? ( Lee Strobel, The Case for Christ, (Grand Rapids, MI, Zondervan, 1998), Christ, p 63. Norman L. Geisler, “Updating the Manuscript Evidence for the New Testament”, www.normangeisler.net/articles/Bible/Reliability)
149. Why if sceptic Bart Ehrman thinks the gospels teach a divine Jesus, do you believe they don’t?
150. Are you aware a case can be made for the resurrection of Jesus without even assuming the Bible is God’s word or even that the gospels are generally historically reliable?
151. Have you applied the historian’s criteria of dissimilarity, embarrassment, historical congruence and coherence as well as multiple independent attestation (alleged contradictions many of which are merely differences show multiple independent sources existed while maintaining a consistent core of facts) to the gospels?
152. Why did the disciples die for their belief in a story they made up?
153. How could Paul and James who were biased against Jesus be suddenly changed as supported by non biblical sources such as Hegesippus, (James) Josephus, (James) and Clement of Rome etc (Paul)?
154. If Jesus never existed why do we have 42 sources speaking about him within the first 150 years of his life as Habermas highlights, including secular sources such as Celsus, Thallus, Phlegon, Tacitus, Suetonius, Josephus, Mara Bar Serapion, Lucian, Pliny the Younger?
155. Why were the early church who lived with Jesus and the disciples willing to die for their faith as detailed by the Shepherd of Hermas, Melito of Sardis, Dionysius of Corinth, Hegesippus, Eusebius, Polycrates, Tacitus, Josephus and Pliny?
156. Why did early Christians die for a myth they made up and how did it give them political power if they were killed and persecuted for believing it?
157. If Christianity is a religion for white males, why is Christianity struggling to grow in western nations while females in China and Nigeria are becoming Christians at a rapid rate similar to how Christianity has historically grown through persecution?
158. How can a Unitarian God (one in being one in person) be loving by necessity as a core trait when there is no one to love without the creatures they create?
159. How can a binitarian God (one in being two in person; bipersonal God) have love as a core trait when if there are only two persons one can show love to the other for the self interested reason of receiving love back?
160. How can God show love to a suffering world if He does not experience suffering and is completely detached from the suffering of the world?
161. How do you explain the following facts accepted by the majority of New Testament scholars whether atheist, agnostic or Chrisitan by applying historian’s criteria to primarily content from the gospels and not by assuming the Bible is God’s Word or even that the gospels are generally reliable:
a. Empty tomb of Jesus/ discovery by female witnesses
b. Disciples claimed to have post mortem appearances of Jesus
c. Origin of the disciples’ belief and subsequent willingness to die for belief in the resurrection of Jesus
162. How about the following facts accepted by the majority of New Testament scholars whether atheist, agnostic or Chrisitan by applying historian’s criteria to the content entirely outside the gospels (minimal facts case by Habermas and Licona which Anthony Flew while an atheist admitted he could not explain away)?
- Jesus died by crucifixion (Greek and Roman sources)
- Disciples claimed to have post mortem appearances of Jesus
- Paul was suddenly changed
- James was suddenly changed
- The tomb was empty
163. How do you explain the creed from 1 Corinthians 15:3–8 which refers to Jesus’ empty tomb, resurrection and appearances to over 500 many of whom were still alive, being dated to within a few years of Jesus death according to the overwhelming majority of scholars, including scholars who are sceptics of traditional Christianity such as Gerd Ludemann, Robert Funk and Michael Goulder?
164. If the disciples were simply hallucinating, how do you explain a group hallucination by over 500 people at different times and places for something not expected, enemies of Christianity such as Paul converting as attested by Clement of Rome as well as the empty tomb?
165. Why would the disciples steal the body and be willing to die for a lie they created as well as somehow be able to manage to convince sceptics Christ had risen?
166. Why would the disciples preach Jesus rose in Jerusalem given that’s where the evidence would be to refute them if they were making things up?
167. Are you aware binitarianism was common amongst Jews during the time of Jesus as per the quotes below and that the idea of a multipersonal God was not a Christian invention nor a copy from anything but a continuation of and expansion on Jewish scriptures and thinking?
“In the first and second centuries, there were Jewish non-Christians who firmly held theological doctrines of a second God, variously called Logos, Memra, Sophia, Metatron, or Yahoel; indeed, perhaps most of the Jews did so at the time.” Historian Dr. Daniel Boyarin, Borderlines, pg. 92.
Jewish philosopher Philo of Alexandria taught that the Logos, somewhat of a “second God” proceeded from God as somewhat of an intermediary between God and the cosmos and was a separate person. https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/philo/
The Babylonian Talmud in a legendary account refers to famous Rabbi Akiva (lived in 1st and 2nd century) in Chagigah 14a as taking on a binitarian view of the two thrones in Daniel 7 which would seem to suggest it was known he held such a view in real life. https://www.sefaria.org/Chagigah.14a.5?ven=William_Davidson_Edition_-_English&vhe=William_Davidson_Edition_-_Vocalized_Aramaic&lang=bi
168. If in the Old Testament in Psalm 110:1 Yahweh speaks to Adonai, “The LORD said to my Lord” when both words are only used to refer to God, how can we say the idea of God being more than one person but within one being is a Christian invention?
169. You might struggle to conceptualise what things look like in the 11th dimension that aren’t contradictory so why do you say one in being three in person is logically contradictory when it isn’t but is merely difficult to conceptualise (some have used Cerberus the three headed dog and the sun with it’s relationship to light etc as examples which can be helpful but are not perfect examples)?
170. Why do you say the idea of a divine Messiah is a Christian invention when in Isaiah 9:6 the Messiah is referred to as “Mighty God” which is the same title used to refer to Yahweh in the next chapter (Is. 10:20–21)? Dr. Michael Brown deals with the Jewish objection to this point.
171. If we argue miracles cannot happen because human experience shows miracles to be improbable therefore all reports of miracles are improbable aren’t we arguing in a circle, assuming a conclusion, without considering case by case evidence?
172. How would you respond to former famous atheist turned deist (not Christian) philosopher, Anthony Flew who claimed “The evidence for the resurrection is better than for claimed miracles in any other religion. It’s outstandingly different in quality and quantity.”? ( Gary Habermas, “My Pilgrimage from Atheism to Theism: An Exclusive Interview with Former British Atheist Professor Antony Flew.” Available from the Web site of Biola University at www.biola.edu/antonyflew)
NEW TESTAMENT RELIABILITY (Note this is not needed to believe Jesus rose from the dead but is often a topic which comes up with people considering Christianity)
173. Are you aware we can reconstruct virtually or very close to the entire New Testament purely based off quotes from early church fathers without even looking at the overwhelming manuscript evidence?
174. Are you aware that of the variants in New Testament manuscripts (thousands of manuscripts), 75% are spelling or similar differences, 15% are variations of Greek synonyms and transpositions, over 9% are late changes easily detectable and less than 1% impact the meaning of the text and are from early manuscripts while even Ehrman admits as quoted in another question, these do not impact essential Christian doctrines? (See Daniel Wallace’s chapter on “The Quantity and Quality of Textual Variants in Reinventing Jesus, 53–63, and his section under “The Nature of the Variants” in Revisiting the Corruption of the New Testament, 40–43, for a more thorough look at the types of variants.)
175. Why say the early church corrupted the Bible when we clearly have numerous streams of transmission from persecuted minorities independent of one another from different geographic areas which we can compare to in order to assess how the originals would have appeared?
176. Are you aware of the overwhelming evidence (some brief examples in questions below) that New Testament authors reflect knowledge of an enormous amount of historical facts which would be virtually impossible for a late forgery to reflect?
177. Are you aware early church fathers such as Justin Martyr and Polycarp attest to New Testament writings being treated as Scripture well before the Council of Nicaea?
178. Are you aware that the Council of Nicaea vote was 214–2, confirming what was already known and understood and that people such as Athanasios, far from being some kind of political oppressor, actually faced subsequent persecution for their views behind voting for it as he was banished 5 times and spent 17 years in exile for his belief in the divinity of Jesus?
179. Given we have countless cases in the early church fathers and New Testament writings which refer to the divinity of Jesus, why lie and suggest this was some kind of invention at the Council of Nicaea?
180. Are you aware second century critic of Christianity, Celsus (enemy attestation), acknowledged in his writings well before the Council of Nicaea that the early Christians believed Jesus rose from the dead, thought he was the divine Son of God, was born of a virgin and practised miracles which Celsus considered “sorcery”?
181. Are you aware the Dead Sea Scrolls found between 1947 and 1956 confirmed many writings we had of Old Testament books translated into English were significantly consistent with the ancient manuscripts found which included an entire scroll of Isaiah and around 230 manuscripts which contain partial or complete copies of every book in the Hebrew Bible except the book of Esther?
182. How do claims that the New Testament has been wildly corrupted to include totally different beliefs, stack up against sceptic and leading Bible critic, Bart Ehrman’s view? Here’s what Ehrman says in an interview found in the appendix of Misquoting Jesus (p. 252):
Bruce Metzger is one of the great scholars of modern times, and I dedicated the book to him because he was both my inspiration for going into textual criticism and the person who trained me in the field. I have nothing but respect and admiration for him. And even though we may disagree on important religious questions — he is a firmly committed Christian and I am not — we are in complete agreement on a number of very important historical and textual questions. If he and I were put in a room and asked to hammer out a consensus statement on what we think the original text of the New Testament probably looked like, there would be very few points of disagreement — maybe one or two dozen places out of many thousands. The position I argue for in ‘Misquoting Jesus’ does not actually stand at odds with Prof. Metzger’s position that the essential Christian beliefs are not affected by textual variants in the manuscript tradition of the New Testament.
183. Why does the New Testament contain excessive non theological language/ comments, information very embarrassing to the disciples and undesigned coincidences between books that form a more complete narrative?
184. How do you explain the 84 historical facts in the last 16 chapters of Acts, including port names, slang terms, local industries for specific areas, geographical boundaries, specific designations for rulers in different geographic regions etc. as confirmed by historian Colin Hermer if it is all a made up myth (http://truthbomb.blogspot.com/2012/01/84-confirmed-facts-in-last-16-chapters.html)?
185. If John is purely a late theological embellished myth, how do you explain the 59 confirmed or historically probable facts in the gospel of John as noted by Craig Bloomberg or the 41 remarkably precise historical facts in the New Testament as outlined by William Paley (https://inspiringphilosophy.wordpress.com/2015/08/15/41-facts-confirmed-in-the-new-testament-from-william-paley/), along with countless other facts outlined by historians, who in some cases such as that of Nathaniel Lardner have produced over 10 volumes outlining historical facts, if the New Testament authors had no interest in historicity?
186. If the Bible was simply randomly compiled at the Council of Nicea, why does the Muratorian fragment (approx. 170 AD) contain many of the current books of the New Testament, while Irenaeus refer to the gospel authors etc in approx 180 AD, Papias in approx 125 AD, Clement of Alexandria in approx. 180 AD and also Tertullian 200 AD despite these church fathers coming from different geographical areas?
187. If the gospels were all late myths why do they never refer to the destroyed temple of Jerusalem (70 AD) and why do we have fragments of later gospels (John is assumed to be written last) going back to close to the turn of the first century in the case of P52 from John 18:31–33?
188. Are you aware that the fact we can find virtually the whole New Testament in the quotes of early church fathers is done without even looking at the overwhelming evidence from the manuscripts we have?
189. If someone sees their football team win and goes and tells the story for years to come, do you automatically dismiss their view because they are biased or do you weigh up their claims against other factors without automatically dismissing them?
UNIQUENESS OF CHRISTIANITY
190. Are you perfect?
191. If God exists and is perfect while you are imperfect how can you bridge the gap?
192. Napoleon highlighted Jesus was no mere man and has built an empire based on love, why would he say this and do you agree? “I know men and I tell you that Jesus Christ is no mere man. Between Him and every other person in the world there is no possible term of comparison. Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne, and I have founded empires. But on what did we rest the creation of our genius? Upon force. Jesus Christ founded His empire upon love; and at this hour millions of men would die for Him.”
193. Hindu, Gandhi recognised the uniqueness of the cross of Christ, “Jesus, a man who was completely innocent, offered himself as a sacrifice for the good of others, including his enemies, and became the ransom of the world. It was a perfect act.” What do you make of this?
194. If according to non Christian sceptical scholars such as Bart Ehrman and Gerd Ludemann, the crucifixion and death of Jesus is an indisputable fact of history, why do you think Jesus died and why do you think the resurrection is one of the most celebrated facts of history?
195. Why has Jesus been so influential throughout history when he was a poor Jewish carpenter under Roman authority and the disciples were mostly uneducated fisherman?
196. How did Christianity grow repeatedly through the most vicious persecution?
197. How could something or someone imperfect cover for the sins of many evil people?
198. How can you say all religions are the same when in Christianity you are saved by Christ’s grace and work (Eph. 2:8–9, Acts 15:11), not your own?
199. Was Jesus a Lord, liar, lunatic or legend? A blasphemer or divine?
200. Who was Jesus and why did Jesus die?
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