Challenge Response: Christianity Is Absurd

Here's my response to this week's challenge:

Transcript:

0:01 Is it true that almost anything is more

0:09 likely than the absurdity of a man

0:11 performing miracles? So that's our

0:13 challenge. Now with most challenges, the

0:16 first thing that you have to do is you

0:18 have to get some definitions out on the

0:20 table. And so if someone wants to refer

0:23 to the miracles of Jesus as absurd,

0:26 my question is, "What do you mean by

0:28 absurd?" I need clarification on what you

0:32 mean by that term. So by something being

0:35 absurd, do you mean that it's just

0:38 impossible? Is it impossible that Jesus

0:42 performed miracles? Or do you mean that

0:45 it's improbable or unlikely that Jesus

0:48 performed miracles? And whichever

0:51 definition you choose is really going to

0:52 shape the way I respond to this

0:55 objection. So if someone says, "Well, it's

0:57 just impossible."

0:58 Ok, do you mean logically impossible? Or do you

1:03 mean naturally impossible? Right, so

1:05 there's another distinction here. Is it

1:07 logically impossible for miracles to

1:11 occur? And if that's the claim, that's a

1:13 very strong claim, and I think that claim

1:15 is actually false. What law of logic does

1:20 a miracle violate? Does it violate the

1:24 law of non-contradiction? Well, no.

1:25 So point out to me which law of logic it

1:29 violates if you think it's logically

1:30 impossible. So someone might say, "Well,

1:32 it's it's naturally impossible, right?

1:35 You've got laws of nature, and a

1:41 and a miracle goes against that."

1:43 Well, let's be clear on what a law of

1:46 nature is. A law of nature is not a

1:49 inviolable thing. Really, laws of nature

1:53 are descriptions of regularity.

1:56 They're descriptions of patterns, but they

1:59 can be adjusted. There may be other data

2:03 that kind of comes and helps us to see

2:05 that there's an irregularity or an

2:08 anomaly, right? So when we say

2:10 "impossibility,"

2:12 I think we can rule out logically

2:13 impossible.

2:14 I think we can rule out naturally

2:16 impossible because that doesn't

2:19 automatically rule out miracles. And so

2:23 maybe the claim is well, they're improbable,

2:25 or they're unlikely. And if that's the

2:28 claim, then then I can work with that.

2:30 And so it maybe you can see what I'm

2:31 doing here is i'm just trying to get

2:33 clarity to see what I have to work with.

2:36 The person who says they are just

2:38 impossible,

2:40 well, I'm going to need to know the

2:41 reason why it's impossible and then

2:43 start there, versus kind of just dealing

2:45 with the miracle claim. So if someone

2:47 says, "miracles are impossible because

2:50 there is no God,"

2:52 okay, well then I'm going to set aside

2:54 the miracle claims of Jesus, and I'm

2:57 going to deal with that more fundamental

2:58 claim, "there is no God."

3:00 So what you do in asking the questions

3:03 is you surface people's presuppositions,

3:06 right? Why would someone think that

3:08 miracles should be kind of ruled out

3:11 prima facie, right, as this challenge says?

3:14 Well, maybe because there's background

3:17 beliefs that are operating that prevent

3:20 the person from even, you know, thinking

3:22 that these things are even possible.

3:25 Okay so we need to define that term

3:26 "absurdity." There are even atheists who use

3:29 the term, you know, "absurdity" to refer to

3:33 what happens at the quantum level. So

3:36 are they using that term the same way

3:38 for that quantum activity

3:42 that they believe is happening,

3:45 is plausible?

3:47 So we've got to get that definition

3:49 clear. Now, if someone goes with the

3:52 definition of "absurd means

3:55 it's improbable," let's be a little more

3:57 precise, it's really just

3:58 improbable or unlikely. I

4:02 might say, "Okay, I can agree with that."

4:04 Yeah, there is a sense where maybe

4:06 miracles are unlikely in that they don't

4:09 happen with a lot of regularity. But that

4:12 doesn't mean they're impossible. Now I

4:14 want to say, "Okay, well let's look at the

4:17 evidence," and I brought something to show

4:20 you. Here we go two volumes on

4:22 miracles. Craig Keener, who is a

4:26 bona fide scholar, this guy's a top-notch

4:28 scholar, has in two volumes documented

4:32 thousands of miracles all around the

4:35 world.

4:36 Okay, that is evidence that

4:39 has to be put onto the table now, if the

4:42 claim is that these things are

4:43 improbable, yeah maybe they're improbable.

4:45 That doesn't rule out that they don't

4:46 happen. And here we now have evidence for

4:51 miracles. In fact, is it possible that

4:54 maybe there's data that you or I are

4:56 unaware of that suggests that millions

4:59 of people actually have experience with

5:01 miracles? And if that's the case, maybe

5:03 that's something the skeptic doesn't

5:05 know. I'm sure most skeptics maybe have

5:07 not even heard of this kind of research,

5:09 but certainly then, we have to put that

5:12 on the table and consider that. And so

5:15 now we have documented evidence of

5:20 miracle claims, and if that's the case,

5:23 well maybe then we say, "Okay, maybe in

5:27 general,

5:28 miracles are more unlikely. Maybe

5:30 we should expect that they would be more

5:32 rare, but we certainly can't say that

5:34 they don't happen. We have evidence

5:36 contrary to that." Now, with either

5:39 definition, impossible or improbable,

5:40 ultimately I think that's going to

5:42 bring us back to the personal God of

5:46 theism. Right, so if you think miracles

5:49 are impossible, then we're gonna set

5:51 aside the miracle claims, and we're going

5:53 to have to jump to kind of larger

5:56 worldview issues of, okay, does God exist?

5:58 And then I would offer you the evidence

6:02 for God's existence to try and see if we

6:05 can it move you from no God to God.

6:08 Because then if God exists,

6:11 well, then miracles are simply possible.

6:13 If there's an all-powerful creator who

6:16 brought the universe into existence,

6:17 well, performing miracles for that

6:22 creator it is no problem. Raising a dead

6:24 person is no problem for that kind of

6:27 being. And even with the improbability

6:29 claim, let's say you say, "Well, they're

6:30 improbable." Well okay, but again, if there

6:34 is this context of theism, if we have

6:37 these background views that God

6:39 exists, and that He is a personal being,

6:42 and He's involved in the affairs of

6:43 humanity,

6:44 well then that strengthens the

6:47 plausibility of the the idea that He has

6:50 actually interacted, that He has done

6:53 miracles, that He's done the miraculous.

6:55 Either way, we come back to the God of

6:58 theism, and we answer another challenge.

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Brett Kunkle

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