Sunday, October 13, 2013

Response to Joel Anderson's Critique of My Book, Part 1

My friend, Joel Anderson, has written his first blog post critiquing my book "God Is: Exploring the Nature of the Biblical God". For some reason, Google was not allowing me to post a response directly on his blog, so I am posting it here on mine.

Thanks, Joel. You are a man of your word, and I appreciate that.

I just wanted to make a few points of clarification.

Reason and logic are not a panacea. To live our lives 100% by R&L requires us to have all knowledge related to a topic and to be capable of flawless logic. In this temporal life, we rarely have the time to gather all relevant information and examine it thoroughly. We almost always make decisions based on partial knowledge. Faith bridges the gap. So R&L and faith are both needed to function properly in this life. That said, I believe the more we use R&L, the closer to the truth we will come.

When I say that we should examine the Bible through the filter of R&L, what I am saying is that if there are any obvious contradictions or irrationalities, it is not a good idea to just accept them by faith. It is best to say, "Well, the Bible has flaws in it" rather than say "I don't understand these seeming contradictions, but I know the Bible is 100% true, so I believe it anyway."

While some Christians believe the Bible should be accepted by faith alone, others actually believe in some combination of faith and reason. Once a Christian friend said to me, "People need to understand that the Bible should be believed by faith." I said, "If that's true, then why can't a person believe ANY religion by faith?" Knowing he was cornered he responded, "Well, I guess one needs to use faith and reason." I said, "Exactly! The problem is now how much of each?"

Also, notice that I didn't say in my book that only natural explanations should be accepted for reported supernatural events. I said if any natural explanations exist they are to be preferred. I fail to see how this is controversial. Even Christians do this when it comes to current day events. If someone says he killed another person because God commanded him to, even a Christian would not believe it without an abundance of proof. But when the Old Testament reports that God commanded the Israelites to kill people, they accept it without an abundance of proof. That is illogical to me. Be skeptical of both.

Since I have never experienced any supernatural events (something that defies the known laws of physics and nature) in my entire life, it seems reasonable to me that I should be skeptical of supernatural reports from others. After all, when many of these claims are actually investigated, a natural explanation is found. Other times we find that the person was fooled, exaggerating, or lying. But if the gospel stories are indeed true, then I am not nearly as skeptical as the apostles were of Jesus' resurrection. They disbelieved the testimony of their friends even though they had seen Jesus perform many miracles and had themselves performed them. They still had to see physical proof. I ask no more. (See

Finally, I am a skeptic, but more accurately I call myself a theistic leaning agnostic. That means that I don't know for sure if God exists, but I tend to believe he does. But based on all the evidence I have encountered along my space-time continuum path, I do not believe supernatural events occur. It doesn't mean they don't, it just means that I am very skeptical based on my experiences. The reason I mostly believe in a god (or creator), is that the Universe doesn't seem to be able to explain its own existence. That may change with more research, but currently it seems more knowledge just leads to more questions. What I don't believe is that God is any of the ones portrayed by the religions of the world. I believe the descriptions of the gods in religions are just how the writers of the holy books personally viewed God. A person in any of these religions would be just as skeptical as me about all other religions but their own. I am just skeptical of one more than they are.

If God exists, it appears he has given mankind the gift of reason to keep us from believing the unbelievable. Surely he would not want us to squander this ability.

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