by: Edward T. Babinski
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Is it "rational" to believe in all the specific things Christians claim one must believe? Or might it not be "more rational" to inject a greater amount of agnosticism into one's Christianity or one's atheism?
Do we know that the writings of the Bible, every book, story, are divinely inspired? How could one rationally prove any particular writing is "divinely inspired?"
Do we know that a particular interpretation of the Bible is the right one? Or that a particular theological interpretation is necessarily true while a Jewish, secular or alternative theological interpretation is necessarily false? And if the Bible can be interpreted many ways, including leaving questions open regarding the meanings of various word, passages and stories, doesn't that make it more like other ancient books instead of unique?
Do we know what the future, and/or eternity, holds? Christians desire to "know" the future, and "know" they are saved, and "know" what will happen to them after they die. But in what sense can that be called "knowing" when the Bible contains different passages/views regarding the future and the afterlife? NT views appear to have arisen during the "inter-testamental" period, including such genres as apocalypses and the idea eternal punishments and rewards. But does the mere existence of such historical trajectories prove that God set them up?
Do we know God is "Triune?" Jews do not find much evidence of that in the writings that they consider holy. And secular biblical scholars also have difficulty finding "Trinitarianism" in the Old Testament. Hints of it perhaps begin to arise during the Inter-testamental period with the rise of the "Two Thrones" idea, and the growing personification of God's "Wisdom." But does the mere existence of such historical trajectories prove that God set them up?
Do we know Jesus was fully God and fully man, or even if that can make sense? Is the "fully man" part of Jesus now part of the eternal Trinity?
Do we know that the life is in the blood, and, without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins? What rational argument or experimental evidence is there for such a belief?
Lastly, is it rational to believe in a personal God if we lack direct evidence? By which I mean that God allegedly walked in the garden with Adam, and "spoke" with various people in biblical times, even showed his "backside" to all the Israelites while they crouched behind rocks, and spoke out of a whirlwind to Job, and used to send representatives who could prove with publicly viewed miracles that they were God's representatives, from a series of nationwide plagues, to sending down fire from heaven after a prayer in a duel with another religion. What has happened since those times, such that today we don't even expect such things to happen, and that we have come to rely instead on a "small inner voice" that we have to be the ones to "interpret" as "God's?"
Furthermore, if an apostle like Thomas failed to believe unless shown direct evidence, isn't it still rational to ask for direct evidence today? And if anti-God forces were struck down with death in the past why doesn't that seem to happen today? For instance in the OT God strikes down the Egyptians, Canaanites, etc., and even his own people if they strayed or grumbled, including trying to kill Moses at an Inn, while in the NT God even kills people who like Christianity, either because they lied about giving all their money to the church, or because they celebrate the Lord's Supper in the wrong fashion), why doesn't that happen today? Why wasn't Darwin or Dawkins struck down and killed before they could write their bestsellers, or struck down soon afterwards?
Or take the case of Paul the persecutor who failed to believe in Jesus until God appeared to Paul directly. Why doesn't God do that today? Why wasn't Darwin, Dawkins, et al, granted a vision, or an earful of God, and then blinded to be cured only by a believer? (The last time I read about anything like the Pauline tale was the story of Sundar Singh a young Sikh who converted in the early 1900s, and became a Christian evangelist, but Sundar also had visions of the spiritual world that led him to preach universalism, which doesn't seem orthodox.)
So, I wonder if it's reasonable to claim that Christianity is rational when there are so many beliefs that accompany it that seem based more on revelation than reason, including a belief in revelation and its proper interpretation. Then there's the added threat, an eternity of punishment if you do not agree. Does that sound reasonable? Or is epistemic humility a more rational course?
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