Historical Evidence for the Christian Faith

sherlockThe historical basis for Christianity is a subject I have returned to several times on my blog. As a young adult, I set out to prove or disprove once and for all the faith I was raised in. If God wasn’t real, why set limits on my behavior? If the tenants of faith could be disproven, why adhere to them? I wanted to know if the gospel story really was true. So I began researching historical evidence. I soon found out Christianity is not a blind faith at all.

So what proofs did I uncover? I’ll list them here under three main headings: The Person of Christ, The Canon of Scripture, and Prophecy.

The Person of Christ

Jesus is the central figure of the Bible and the key to the Christian faith. If he can be discredited, the entire house of cards falls down. It is the logical place to start an investigation into the authenticity of Christianity. So who was he? What did he do? Why is he so important?

The Claims of Christ

Jesus Christ made it abundantly clear who he thought he was. He believed he was the Messiah sent by God to provide atonement for the sin of mankind. That’s a pretty huge claim. Here are two examples of his own statements:

I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though  he dies: and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. (John 11:25)

I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6)

Jesus claimed to be the Son of God. There are only three logical responses to it. Either Christ was a liar, or He was crazy, or He was who He said He was.

Liar, Lord, or Lunatic

If you read the rest of the gospels, you’ll see right away that the first option just doesn’t jive. Christ preached against lying and for a moral lifestyle based on God’s law. It makes no sense that he would lie. Nor would he sacrifice his life for a lie. And you can’t argue that he was simply killed. He didn’t have to enter Jerusalem where it was widely known the religious establishment was plotting against him. But he did. He could have made a very good case for himself before Pilate, but he didn’t. He chose to die. Would a man die for a lie? That’s ridiculous.

So could he have been crazy? A crazy man might die for believing a falsehood. But that doesn’t make sense either. Jesus profoundly influenced the world with his teaching and his life. His ideas are succinct, wise, and highly regarded universally. Is this in keeping with an unsound mind? Did his actions at all imply imbalance? I just don’t buy it.

That leaves only one option. Jesus Christ was who he said he was.

The Miracles of Christ

Next, let’s look at what Christ accomplished. We are going to assume for the moment that the gospels are historically accurate (we’ll prove it momentarily) and that the miracles they relate really happened. What miracles were they? Jesus healed the blind and the lame. He caused the mute to speak and the deaf to hear. He cast out demons, fed thousands with a small lunch–twice–turned water to wine, and healed a variety of illnesses. He even raised the dead.

Have you ever heard of any other human ever accomplishing these things? Of course not. They are supernatural occurances that attest to the authenticity of Jesus. The miracles prove the message. They are divine references, if you will. The testimony of God himself to the accuracy of Christ’s claims.

The Resurrection

The resurrection of Christ from the dead is the grandaddy miracle of them all. If it’s true, it verifies Christ’s claim and forms the substance of the Christian religion. In it are tied up faith, love, forgiveness, atonement, and hope through this conquering of death. But it’s so crazy! So unprecedented! So unnatural! Can it really be true? What are the evidences?

The Disciples

Jesus chose twelve young men to be his disciples, and you have to admit they weren’t too impressive. When Jesus was teaching, they always seemed to miss the mark. They argued among themselves. They asked ridiculous questions. And they turned out to be real cowards when Christ was arrested.

But after Christ’s death, that all changed. These men, with the exception of Judas, became vocal proponents for Christ’s message. They took on the Jewish leaders. They traveled to foreign lands. They won converts, started churches, bucked established pagan religions, endured jail time, suffered beatings, and according to tradition, all of them but John died for their faith.

These guys firmly believed Christ’s message. Something substantial made them change. But what? How’d they go from coward to martyr? The only possible answer is that they were witnesses to the very real miracle of the Resurrection.

The Jewish Leaders, Roman Soldiers, and the Lack of a Body

Since Jesus had said ahead of time that he would rise from the dead, the Jewish religious leaders took precautions. They wanted to nip that idea in the bud. More Christian converts meant less power for them! They wanted Christ’s body firmly in the ground as proof that he was a counterfeit. So they asked Roman soldiers to guard the tomb.

These soldiers were the most well-trained, effective army in the world. They were career soldiers, hardened men who didn’t flinch in battle. No one was getting by them. Yet something happened. They scattered. They ran away frightened. What could cause this but a supernatural event? Even an unlikely overpowering force of men wouldn’t send them scurrying but would cause a battle there’d be some record of. They simply scattered. Why?

The Roman guards fled. They left their place of responsibility. How can their attrition he explained, when Roman military discipline was so exceptional? Justin, in Digest #49, mentions all the offenses that required the death penalty. The fear of their superiors’ wrath and the possibility of death meant that they paid close attention to the minutest details of their jobs. One way a guard was put to death was by being stripped of his clothes and then burned alive in a fire started with his garments. If it was not apparent which soldier had failed in his duty, then lots were drawn to see which one would be punished with death for the guard unit’s failure. Certainly the entire unit would not have fallen asleep with that kind of threat over their heads. Dr. George Currie, a student of Roman military discipline, wrote that fear of punishment ‘produced flawless attention to duty, especially in the night watches. –Josh McDowell, Evidence for the Resurrection

And where was the body? If it was a hoax, wouldn’t the Jewish leaders move heaven and earth to lay hold of the body and squash rumors of a resurrection? But they couldn’t produce it.

Witnesses

And what about the hundreds of recorded witnesses who also claimed to see the risen Christ? Not only the disciples and the women saw Jesus. Cleopas and another disciple saw him on the road to Emmaus. And I Corinthians says Jesus “appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living.” Christ’s Resurrection was not done in secret. Hundreds saw him firsthand and testified to it. This was the news story of the day. One that the temple leaders would have hushed if they could, but it was too widely known. They could not refute so many witnesses.

Canon of Scripture

After understanding and proving that Jesus was a historical figure and his Resurrection was a historical event, I set out to prove or disprove the Bible as a reliable source. I started with learning how it came to be in its present form.

Who decided which books would be included in the Bible?

Early Christian leaders were actually Jewish rabbis. Jesus Christ was Jewish, and this new religion was born out of the ancient one. It wasn’t really a new religion at all, if you understand the correlation between Old and New Testaments, rather a fulfilling of the old. But as many Jews didn’t agree that Christ was truly the Messiah, Judaism and Christianity are today held as two separate religions. Nevertheless, the first church authorities were Jews, the men who walked and talked with and learned under Jesus. These were the men who heard his words, recorded them, and taught them to others. Their combined message was incredibly consistent. It was this consistency and first-hand experience that prompted their books and letters to be universally regarded as the authority among early leaders. Theirs was, in essence, the message preached by Christ.

As time passed, the church grew and spread and Gentiles took up leadership in their own congregations, heresies began to arise. There came into existence documents claiming new revelation, new doctrine. The need for a cohesive, authoritative collection (canon) became apparent. So a variety of councils were held in the first four centuries after Christ to decide which literature should be included.

What criteria were used to determine inclusion?

At the time these leaders met, the Old Testament scriptures were firmly established and widely accepted. It was primarily the New Testament collection they were debating. A variety of factors were used to decide which documents could be considered authoritative of church doctrine and added to biblical canon and which could not. Was the book written by an apostle or someone with a close association to them? (In other words, did they a have proper first-hand witness?) Were they consistent in their message? Did they contain high moral and spiritual values? Were they widely accepted by the early church? Did they contain errors?

This process of evaluation is very mindful of the methods scholars use today to determine the authenticity of historical literature, or even how testimony is evaluated in a legal case. New Testament scripture was held to a high standard, and if any document could not pass muster, it was discarded. In essence, this process whittled down the selection to only the books that were consistent with the message of Jesus Christ. As I already fully satisfied myself of his deity, provided the scriptural source documentation checked out, I’d say that’s a pretty reliable basis.

24,000 Manuscripts

One way historians judge the reliability of an antique text is by the number of ancient copies available, the accuracy between them, and the length of time from the text’s origin to the date of the oldest copy. There are 643 copies of Homer’s Iliad, a number that has universally satisfied historians as to its authenticity, even though there is a 500 year gap between the publication date and the oldest copy. We have over 24,000 copies of the New Testament from antiquity. 24,000! And the earliest copy is less than 100 years away from the original. Satisfactory? I think so.

But what about the Old Testament?

Just because they were already established, do we simply take those books on faith? Not at all. They had to meet similar criteria. Were the authors prophets or known men of God? Are their words without error? Have prophecies been confirmed? Have miraculous events verified the authors? Are they consistent in their messages?  The Old Testament books were reaffirmed by the early church councils. In fact, the Old Testament has been tested and reaffirmed much longer than the New Testament. Jesus himself attests to their reliability all through the gospels. 

Dead Sea Scrolls

One singular archaeological find did more to reaffirm the Old Testament’s historicity than any other find. In 1947, shepherd boys discovered the Dead Sea Scrolls. They include manuscripts or partial manuscripts of every book of the Bible except Esther. And they were written nearly one thousand years earlier that any previously known copies. The differences between the documents, even after one thousand years, were minimal, verifying that God has indeed preserved his Word over time.

Prophecy

One final subject I delved into to prove or disprove Chist and the Bible was prophecy. Prophecy, of course, is the predicting of events before they happen. Supernatural for sure. I wanted to satisfy myself that the prediction dates and later fulfillments were authentic.

Purpose

Messianic prophecies were given throughout the Old Testament so we would recognize the Messiah when he came. Some told what he would do, some described his birth, others revealed what would happen to him at the hands of others. Many are details that could in no way be manipulated by a counterfeit.

Authenticity

All of the messianic prophecies in the Bible were foretold between 400 and 1,000 years before Christ was born. How can we know they were written that long ago? Maybe someone just wrote them down after-the-fact. Three words: Dead Sea Scrolls. These ancient documents are widely believed to date back two centuries before Christ’s birth. They not only verify the accuracy of biblical transcription, but they also prove the Messianic prophecies were written long before Jesus was actually born.

Quantity

There are over 300 Messianic prophecies. Different scholars and translations give a range of actual numbers, from 365-456, and some of them can get pretty obscure, but the fact remains, there are at least 365 prophecies that everybody agrees on. That’s a pretty impressive number. Now the really cool part. Jesus fulfilled them all! That adds some veracity to the claims he made about Himself, doesn’t it?

Probability as Mathematical Proof

What’s the probability that one person (Jesus) could fulfill multiple prophecies?

Peter Stoner, Professor Emeritus of Science at Westmont College, with the help of 600 students, worked out the probability that one man could fulfill only eight prophecies. His numbers were widely reviewed by scientists and skeptics alike and found to be sound. The chance he came up with? One in 10 to the 17th power. That’s a one with seventeen zeros. To help us wrap our brains around that figure, he provided this analogy:

Suppose that we take 10 to the 17th silver dollars and lay them on the face of Texas. They’ll cover all of the state two feet deep. Now mark one of these silver dollars and stir the whole mass thoroughly, all over the state. Blindfold a man and tell him that he can travel as far as he wishes, but he must pick up one silver dollar and say that this is the right one. What chance would he have of getting the right one? Just the same chance that the prophets would’ve had of writing these eight prophecies and having them all come true in any one man, from their day to the present time, providing they wrote them in their own wisdom.

You have to admit, those are pretty incredible odds. Almost hints at some intelligent choreography, doesn’t it?

My Conclusion

When faced with this much proof, I had to admit the faith my parents taught me was authentic. God is real. Christ is divine. And the Bible is reliable. My mission now is to share these finds with others. Think how many lives would change if everyone knew this stuff?

Is there anyone you can share this post with?

The Gospel in Plain English

No formidable words are needed to simply and concisely summarize what the Bible’s says. The message is not complex, but it is anathema to those who desire no authority beyond their own intellect. If there is a God, however, the opinions of men cannot negate his existence. A better use of human intelligence might be to judge scripture in light of the possibility that God does exist.

The Bible starts with an all-powerful God who created everything within the universe, including life, natural laws of order and mathematics and logic, and a moral code. Mankind chose to rebel against it. God is love, but he is also holy, and as Creator he has the authority to judge sin. He must, or he would undermine his own laws. The payment for sin is death.

But God in his compassion and creativity devised a way to take that judgment upon himself. He came to Earth in the person of Jesus, who was fully human and fully divine. He lived a perfect life and therefore was undeserving of death. Because he was human, and because he was perfect, his sacrifice is counted as a substitute payment for the sin of all mankind. Anyone seeking reconciliation with God need only claim this payment. We will still die physically, but Christ’s resurrection has proven his power over death. The Bible promises that the dead will rise. Those who claim Jesus will live in a recreated world free of sin and its effects. Those who reject him will suffer eternal, physical punishment.

Some things to think about:

Would any of this prove too hard for a Creator God? What objective does God’s plan meet? Is it unreasonable that he would share it with men? Is any part of this unfair? Is God inconsistent in character or action? Does history bear out the person and accomplishments of Christ? Does this explanation account for the presence of suffering and death? What does this plan imply about the value of human life? What makes the Bible reliable? Do I care enough to do further research, or am I content with what I think is true? What do I base my beliefs on? And finally, what if it’s true?

 

 

Problems with Radiometric Dating

Potassium-Argon radiometric dating is a process by which scientists assign an age to a rock sample by measuring the amounts of Potassium and Argon found within it. It is similar to Carbon dating, which can only be used on materials that were once alive. Potassium-Argon dating is used on rock.

Potassium-40 will decay into Argon-40 at a steady rate. So if scientists know how much Argon is in the rock sample presently (which they do), and if they know how much Argon was in the rock sample when it was formed (which they don’t), and if they know the current rate of decay has always been what it is now (which they don’t), and if they know it has never been contaminated (which they don’t), they could get very accurate readings. Since they don’t know all these facts, they make assumptions—guesses. Of course scientists call their results fact and expect us to swallow their results without debate.

But let me share with you some examples of when Potassium-Argon dating has been proven incorrect:

  • Mt. Etna, in Sicily, erupted in 122 BC. The rock formed in that eruption has been dated at 170,000-330,000 years old.
  • Mt. Etna errupted again in 1972. The rock was dated at 210,000-490,000 years old.
  • Hualalai, in Hawaii, erupted in 1800-1801. The rock has been dated at 1.44-1.76 million years old.
  • Mt. Ngaurahoe, in New Zealand, erupted in 1954. The rock has been dated at 3.3-3.7 million years old.
  • Kilauea Iki, in Hawaii, erupted in 1959. The rock has been dated at 1.7-15.3 million years old.
  • Mount St. Helens erupted in 1986. The rock has been dated at 300,000-400,000 years old.

Did you do the math? Is anyone else having trouble accepting these figures? Perhaps radiometric dating isn’t as accurate as we’ve been told.

More on Carbon Dating

Most people have heard of Carbon-14 dating, but it is a wide misconception that this method provides proof that the earth is millions of years old. Even if we don’t consider the assumptions on which Carbon dating is based, this process is still unable to provide dates more than 100,000 years into the past. This is because C-14 has such a fast decay rate. Every 5,730 year, half of the C-14 in a specimen will have decayed into Nitrogen. This is called a half-life. In another 5,730 years, another half will have decayed. After about 100,000 years, there would not be enough C-14 present to detect with modern instruments.

There are five other radiometric dating methods that use elements with longer half-lives (uranium-238, uranium-235, potassium-40, rubidium-87, and samarium-147). These are the ones that produce readings of millions of years. But Carbon dating actually undermines these figures.

Wood has been found trapped within lava flows that date into the millions of years. But this wood still has detectable amounts of C-14 in it. If it was actually millions of years old, the Carbon would be long gone. Coal and diamonds have been found in rock layers dated in the millions of years. However, both coal and diamonds were found to contain C-14. It is physically impossible for these things to be more than 100,000 years old.

Let me assert that radiometric dating is not as reliable as we have been told.

Blind Faith? Not Really.

This high school term paper came across my radar recently. It was written by my 18-year-old cousin, and it makes a great case for the logic behind faith. Yeah, the logic behind faith. It’s a little heavy, but read through it and you’ll see what I mean. It’s superbly written, and I think it will revitalize your faith in our youth.

The Paradox of Logic Explained

by Mark A. Chesebro
                The problem of Inductive logic is one that has been the thorn in the flesh of many logicians and philosophers. Humes was one of the first to realize this flaw in logic, and it troubled him greatly. Logic is considered the only definite process in a world that tends towards entropy. It would be unsettling to discover any flaw in something that is concrete.
                Some logicians and philosophers believe that the best route to take when dealing with inductive logic’s fallacy is to simply disregard the fact that a conclusion cannot be found, and merely acknowledge that the process works. Others believe that it is perfectly acceptable to disregard Hume’s discovery as it is too narrow in scope to be proven 100% valid. Both of these actions would not be proper for a true logician, as it is of logical nature to determine causes, and the main cause of fallacy in the logic world is due to a lack of scope. It is apparent, then, that we true logicians must broaden our minds to hypothesize and refine until the paradox of Deductive and Nondeductive (Inductive) logic can be solved.
                In the case that the reader is unaware of the paradox or rather the types of logic themselves, I will briefly extrapolate. Deductive logic is the only 100% sound logic in this world. When one uses a premise to deductively entail a conclusion they have formed a cogent (acceptable) argument that meets every standard logical order and premise-to-conclusion acceptability. They have created an irrefutable claim.
Deductive Logic
                Many deductive arguments make use of a priori (know to be true) knowledge to prove their conclusions. An example of an a priori truth would be that humans need oxygen to live. It is definite knowledge that our bodies require the chemical oxygen to function. When a priori truths are used as premises to prove the conclusion, the argument must always be accepted if it follows deductive entailment. It is irrefutable.
                Deductive logic can be proven through the use of proofs and truth tables, and it is easy to see if the conclusion should be accepted or rejected in regards to the given premises. The problem with deductive logic, is that is cannot be used in much general argument. It uses categories and propositions of known facts to reorganize, and is limited beyond anything that is a priori. If the argument is in an area that does not have a priori truths that it can classify, it is essentially useless.
                Deductive logic can tell us that without the sun, the Earth would perish. It is a known fact that heat is required to maintain a homeostatic environment on this planet. It is also known that the sun is the source of this stable heat. Through deductive entailment, we can reason that without the sun to provide the Earth with its necessary heat, it would perish. This is essentially an irrefutable claim. Deductive logic cannot, however, tell us that the sun will rise again tomorrow, in which case the Earth would perish due to lack of the sun. We can know that the sun will sustain the Earth for this instant in time, but we can never know that it will continue to sustain it in the future. This may seem like a ridiculous statement – as the sun has been rising every day for as long as we know – but that is due to the fact that Inductive logic is being engrained in our minds from the moment of our birth.
Inductive Logic
                Inductive logic is using an event, or experience, in the past to make a conclusion of what will take place in the future. If the sun has risen every day of your life up until this point, and every day has sustained the Earth and given it heat, then you will automatically assume that the sun will continue to do this for the indefinite future.  But this would be based on the unstated premise that the future will resemble the past – the idea that we can use the past to prove the future. This is not, however, a Deductively sound assumption because according to deductive entailment, the past is in no way connected to the future. Therefore, to assume the present or future on the basis of information found in the past would be altogether fallacious.
The Paradox
                Deductive logic cannot allow validity in Inductive logic, due to its nature; one is concrete, and one is on the basis of assumption. But as in the example of the sun, we clearly use Inductive logic within our Deductive logic. We must use knowledge of the past to assume that the sun will sustain, and provide a stable environment for the earth. In this case, our a priori truths (the sun will rise and provide heat) are based on an Inductive inference that is not stable. We are using unstable logic to prove stable logic. This is a paradox which cannot exist. It is against deductive logic’s own nature to function in this case.  Furthermore, if this paradox exists, then we must render all logic useless because any flaw in Deductive logic would be to say that it is unstable once, and if this is the case, then there is no reason to assume that it is stable at any time. This paradox would render all logic useless.
                This is a hard concept to grasp, as it is obvious to us that the Sun will continue to sustain the Earth, and it is easy to see that Deductive logic and Inductive logic work. The problem is the philosophy behind it all. While they may work, we have no logical reason to believe that they will continue to do so. For this reason, we must seek out what it is that causes this consistency, regardless of space and time. We must determine what can exist that would make it possible to assume the future on the basis of the past. If we can prove that it is logically sound to use inductive logic, then the paradox would cease to exist, and the function of logic would be proven.
                Now that a background has been given in regards to the terms used, and the problem presented, I will seek to explain what I have found to be the only valid process by which this paradox can be solved.
A Need for Consistency
                I would first like to consider what we “know” about Inductive logic as it is present in every situation of our lives. We trust the chair that we are sitting in because of Inductive logic, and inductive logic is what tells us that when we wake up tomorrow we will be able to further ourselves because of what we have learned or experienced in the past. This considered, it is obvious that Inductive logic is required for rational thought – and rational though, our survival. However, as discussed, our trust in Inductive logic cannot be proven on the grounds of sound logic, as sound logic cannot use the past to prove the future. Therefore, if sound logic cannot prove Inductive logic, yet it is still accepted, and proven on a daily basis, then we must accept it as true on the grounds of faith – as faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we cannot see. This would entail that at its core, our acceptance of inductive logic is based purely on faith, and being that we need inductive logic to survive, and through faith we accept it, then faith is also needed to survive.
                An interesting side conclusion that results from this order of logic is the idea that because our faith in Inductive logic is constantly proven true, regardless of its lack in logical grounds, it is entirely plausible to rely on faith rather that concrete logical reasoning in our every day survival. This does not shed any real light as to the solution of the paradox, but is worth noting all the same as many scientists who disregard faith are actually basing their discoveries in Inductive logic, which is the byproduct of Faith!
                So let us again consider that our faith in Inductive logic is constantly being proven true without any logical grounds whatsoever. If this is the case, which it is, then the only solution that would be plausible would be to assume that there must be certain unalienable “truths” present that regulate the present and future, providing consistency and grounds for our faith. But we know that sound logic, which is the only stable thing in our world, rejects faith as acceptable grounds of proving something. This means that we cannot prove that these “truths” exist using the laws of deductive logic. Yet we witness these “truths” every day when we see entropy in action and consider the laws of thermodynamics. It is quite obvious that regardless of concrete logic, certain “truths” do exist, and are consistent outside of the realm of time.
                This again brings us back to our paradox of logic – rational logic (logic of this “world”) cannot allow these “truths” because of its concrete nature. So we must consider the possibility that there exists a realm outside of our own “world”. A realm that is separate from space and time which would then be able to regulate our “world” due to its external nature. If this was the case, and certain “truths” were present outside of our perception of space and time, then we would have a deductively valid base to place our trust in inductive logic.
                An analogy of this situation would be when we consider chemical reactions. Our faith that water will be the byproduct of H and O is based on the grounds that the laws of combination of elements exists outside of space and time, and so the reaction will continue to form water in the unforeseeable future.
                In the same way, if we accept that there is a higher order in place outside of our space and time, we would have grounds to assume that the sun will continue to rise because the higher order is what continues to sustain our faith in consistency. There must be a higher order which regulates, because without something to regulate space and time, all logic would be rendered as illicit process, and it is very apparent to us that the process is not illicit.
                Furthermore, if these “truths” are present and the future concrete – our faith being proven true – then something must exist which created these laws and regulations outside the realm of our world. Because if we consider the laws of information “Universal information can only be produced by an intelligent sender” then it is impossible for these laws to exist in this external realm unless some intelligent being were to generate this information. The truths that we witness could not continue to exist without this entity present to maintain them for the present and the future.
                With this information considered, it would be entirely plausible to assume that God exists outside of our realm. A God separate of space and time, that is consistent. If this is the case, then our faith that there is a God would be proven true through His consistent nature, and would further provide the grounds necessary to accept faith, or inductive logic, as a valid process.
                So I conclude that our faith in inductive logic, which is necessary for life, can only be proven if we accept that God, an intelligent being, exists outside of space and time. And as an intelligent being, God creates the information that is required to give inductive logic its grounds of reason – God creates and maintains the laws of nature. If we accept the premise that I have proposed, and further have grounds to base our faith in Inductive logic, then we are also able to render the process from deductive logic to inductive logic one that is stable in nature and consistent for all time. God makes Logic possible.
                A further interesting note that I would like to address, although it would be considered slightly post hoc, is to consider that the Bible itself makes indirect reference to God’s attribution to logic. Malachi 3:6 states, “For I am the Lord, I do not change.” And Hebrews 13:8 says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” These verses do not seem to be written with the intent to prove that God is the base for logical reasoning, but if we consider them with Genesis 1:27, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them,” it could be concluded that since we are made in Gods consistent image, we are therefore able to reason on a logical basis due to His, and consequently our, consistent nature. Again, this logic would be considered fallacious due to its post hoc nature, so I was forced to use a more complex process to do so.
                It is my final hope that you the reader – if not willing to accept my premises, order, or conclusion – will in the least be inspired to search for the answer to the paradox yourself. It is not acceptable to merely let such an inconsistency be. Logic is the very core of our thought and essence, and if we cannot have a grounded faith in its function, then we can never be sure that reality is not changing on a daily basis. We cannot assume to truly “know” anything in a sense.
Citations
The Holy Bible, King James Version. New York: American Bible Society: 1999; Bartleby.com, 2000. www.bartleby.com/108/.
Scientific laws of information and their implications—part 1. N.p., 14 Apr. 2011. Web. 3 May 2012.

Prophecy – The Numbers Don’t Lie

Photo by Ulner at Photoxpress

Christianity is not a blind faith. It’s supported by a good deal of evidence. Last time, I laid out some of the reasons I believe Jesus truly is the Son of God. Here’s another big one: 300+ prophecies. I’ve found a range of actual numbers, from 365-456, as given by different scholars and organizations. I’ve read many of them for myself, and I admit some can get pretty obscure, but the fact remains, there are at least 365 prophecies that everybody agrees on. That’s a pretty impressive number.

Let’s back up. Messianic prophecies were given throughout the Old Testament so we would recognize the Messiah when he came. Some told what he would do, some described his birth, others revealed what would happen to him at the hands of others. Many are details that could in no way be manipulated by a counterfeit. And all of them were foretold between 400 and 1,000 years before Christ was born. Four hundred years! That’s like making a predictions about the governor of Michigan in 2512!

How can we know they were written that long ago? Maybe someone just wrote them down after-the-fact. Three words: Dead Sea Scrolls. These ancient documents found in the 1940’s and 50’s are widely believed to date back two centuries before Christ’s birth. They not only verify the accuracy of biblical transcription, but they also prove the Messianic prophecies were written long before Jesus was actually born.

Now the really cool part. Jesus fulfilled them all! That adds some veracity to the claims he made about Himself, doesn’t it?

I’m not going to get into the chapter and verse of individual prophecies. I’ll let you look them up for yourself. There are some excellent websites that present these much better than I could. Here’s one, and here’s another. I am, however, going to relate an astounding statistic concerning the scientific probability that Jesus could fulfill multiple prophecies.

Peter Stoner, Professor Emeritus of Science at Westmont College, with the help of 600 students, worked out the probability that one man could fulfill only eight prophecies. His numbers were widely reviewed by scientists and skeptics alike and found to be sound. The chance he came up with? One in 10 to the 17th power. That’s a one with seventeen zeros. To help us wrap our brains around that figure, he provided this analogy:

“Suppose that we take 10^17 silver dollars and lay them on the face of Texas. They’ll cover all of the state two feet deep. Now mark one of these silver dollars and stir the whole mass thoroughly, all over the state. Blindfold a man and tell him that he can travel as far as he wishes, but he must pick up one silver dollar and say that this is the right one. What chance would he have of getting the right one? Just the same chance that the prophets would’ve had of writing these eight prophecies and having them all come true in any one man, from their day to the present time, providing they wrote them in their own wisdom.”

You have to admit, those are pretty incredible odds. Almost hints at some intelligent choreography, doesn’t it?

The reason why prophecy is an indication of the divine authorship of the Scriptures, and hence a testimony to the trustworthiness of the Message of the Scriptures, is because of the minute probability of fulfillment. – David Williams, mathematician

Why Do I Believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God?

I’ve been sorting through some of the foundations of my faith, identifying them and putting them into words. Writing always helps me get a handle on things, and if one is going to stake her life to a belief, I think she ought to have a pretty good handle on it. So I’m in the process of some internal spring cleaning, sorting and proving and tucking back away.

Christ’s Claims

One of the basic tenets of my faith is that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. Why? Well, first of all, because he said his is! Do I believe everyone who makes that claim? Of course not. So why do I believe this one? I guess you have to look at the whole package.

Jesus Christ made it abundantly clear who He thought He was. Read through the book of John and you’ll see what I mean. He believed He was the Messiah sent by God to provide atonement for the sin of mankind. That’s a pretty huge claim. And there are only three logical responses to it. Either Christ was a liar, or He was crazy, or He was who He said He was.

If you read the rest of the gospels, you’ll see right away that the first option just doesn’t jive. Christ preached against lying and for a moral lifestyle based on God’s law. It makes no sense that He would lie. Nor would he sacrifice His life for a lie. And you can’t argue that He was simply killed. He didn’t have to enter Jerusalem where it was widely known the religious establishment was plotting against Him. But He did. He could have made a very good case for Himself before Pilate, but He didn’t. He chose to die. Would a man die for a lie? That’s ridiculous.

So could He have been crazy? A crazy man might die for believing a falsehood. But that doesn’t make sense either. Jesus profoundly influenced the world with his teaching and his life. His ideas are succinct, wise, and highly regarded universally. Is this in keeping with an unsound mind? Did his actions at all imply imbalance? I just don’t buy it.

That leaves only one option. Jesus Christ was who He said He was.

Eleven Good Reasons

A second reason I believe Jesus is the Son of God is the change that occurred in His followers. Jesus chose twelve young men to be his disciples, and you have to admit they weren’t too impressive. When Jesus was teaching, they always seemed to miss the mark. They argued among themselves. They asked ridiculous questions. And they turned out to be real cowards when Christ was arrested.

But after Christ’s death, that all changed. These men, with the exception of Judas, became vocal proponents for Christ’s message. They took on the Jewish leaders. They traveled to foreign lands. They won converts, started churches, bucked established pagan religions, endured jail time, suffered beatings, and according to tradition, all of them but John died for their faith.

These guys firmly believed Christ’s message. Something substantial made them change. But what? How’d they go from coward to martyr?

The Resurrection

The eleven remaining disciples were witness to the most astonishing event in history, Christ’s resurrection. It’s the number one reason I believe Jesus is the Son of God. It changes everything. It verifies Christ’s claim, and it forms the substance of the Christian religion. In it are tied up faith, love, forgiveness, atonement, and hope through this conquering of death. But it’s so crazy! So unprecedented! So unnatural! Can it really be true?

Would the cowardly disciples give their lives if it wasn’t?

But aside from the change in these witnesses, there are other things that convince me that, no, the Resurrection was not a hoax. Since Jesus had said ahead of time that he would rise from the dead, the Jewish religious leaders took precautions. They wanted to nip that idea in the bud. They wanted Christ’s body firmly in the ground as proof that he was a counterfeit, so they asked for Roman soldiers to guard the tomb.

These soldiers were the most well-trained, effective army in the world. They were career soldiers, hardened men who didn’t flinch in battle. No one was getting by them. Yet something happened. They scattered. They ran away frightened. What could cause this but a supernatural event? Even an unlikely overpowering force of men wouldn’t send them scurrying but would cause a battle there’d be some record of. They simply scattered. Why?

And where was the body? If it was a hoax, wouldn’t the Jewish leaders move heaven and earth to lay hold of the body and squash rumors of a resurrection? But they couldn’t produce it.

And what about the hundreds of recorded witnesses who also claimed to see the risen Christ? Could this all be false? Is it all a hoax? If so, it’s the most elaborate, perfect one in the history of men. But I don’t think it’s a hoax at all. I think the Resurrection is the pivotal moment in which God displayed His power. It’s the centerpiece of a cohesive, premeditated plan. I think Jesus really was who He said He was.

I willingly admit much of my material today was taken from Josh McDowell’s book, More Than a Carpenter. I read it many years ago, but I did not reread it before writing this post. I wanted to take stock of the ideas and reasons I’ve assimilated as my own. I plan to reread it now, and I highly recommend it for anyone who wants more information on this subject. It has so much more content than my little post.