Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Long overdue reply

This is a long overdue reply to a reply to one of my blog posts from earlier in the month. James D Jordan, a cool cat who I disagree with…well, everything on, yet still would call a friend, replied to said post of mine. If I saw his reply earlier than a couple of days ago, I sincerely don’t recall, but I apologize (note the image) and I’m replying now. Rebuttal shall be after the “Read More” link.
I won’t quote the whole post, since that would be super long and would eliminate the need to look at his article. Anyway, in response to my point that Jesus can’t sacrifice himself to god, since he is god, he says this:

Jesus was exactly God? Atheists seem to think so. While on a spiritual level, Jesus is also God, the "God can't sacrifice to Himself" theory falls apart under basic scrutiny. Jesus is not only Son of God but Son of Man.

The datum that destroys Ben's theory is that Jesus had a mother, a quite human mother named Mary. Mary was not perfect. I've argued that she clearly sinned at Cana when she asked her son to make wine in lieu of going to Walgreen's. Mary was fully human. And, here's the stone in the "skeptic" shoe: Jesus was fully human, too.

While that might not make sense to the atheist, it is exactly what the Scriptures predicted. God was going to redeem us Himself. Jesus taught exactly this point as well. God was going to give us His Son. (Isaiah 41:12-14, Isaiah 9:6, and in dozens of passages in the OT and the NT)

It doesn’t make sense, period, James. The trinity is a nonsensical idea if taken literally, as you seem to be doing. I understand the idea of different aspects of a being, and in that way (figuratively rather than literally) the trinity makes sense. I am a person, my online activities are an aspect of my identity, but they are not different entities. Imagine I was playing some online game that allowed for transfers of in-game goods between players, and I set up 2 accounts on this game. They’re both “fully electronic” and “fully me”. If I sent a bunch of gold from one account to the next, is this a multi-person transfer? No, it’s me giving something to me. What if “benfromcanada” makes some money then gives it to Ben Dobson? This weblog does make some money, or would had I enough traffic. If “benfromcanada” sends money from PayPal to Ben Dobson’s bank account, is that a multi-person transaction? No, it is not. Being “fully human” and “fully god” at the same time matters not, it’s the same entity controlling the actions of Jesus, it’s the same being.

Of course, if we assumed you were right, that opens up some major issues. Mary had other children. Does Jesus’ bloodline still exist through their descendants? Did Jesus have identity problems, issues reconciling his god side and his human side? What was Jesus' identity?

Now a "skeptic" will protest that God can't give us His Son as a sacrifice. My response is to ask them to show how He CANNOT do such a thing. I'll help them out; His spirit PLUS a 100% human body EQUALS the perfect sacrifice.

No, it’s his spirit PLUS a 100% human body that he’s owned and been in control of for 30-some years. Under Christian thought, spirit/soul controls the body, and the spirit in Jesus is the important part, not the body.

His response to my second point, that Jesus forfeited nothing of value, is to wonder why I quoted verses about Jesus’ body being beaten beyond recognition. Note: I didn’t “quote” any bible verses, I merely cited chapters where Jesus’ resurrection story was told. The reason is that the reflex from christians is to complain about taking things out of context, so if I simply say “this is the chapter where I got this from” and briefly touch on what happens there, I avoid that asinine criticism altogether. The point is, if your body regenerates, then “sacrificing” it means nothing.

Keep in mind, if Jesus is the Son of God, then His sacrifice is of the utmost importance to every person who lived before, during or after that event. The horrors of September 11, 2001 affected only a small percentage of people. Jesus's sacrifice on the cross affected everyone who ever lived.

Maybe you can explain this problem I had even when I was christian. How does Jesus’ crucifixion affect me at all? I did nothing wrong 2000 years ago when he was executed, so how could my sins have in any way been affected by his death?

As for his criticisms of my third point, that human bodies aren’t worth much in the Christian worldview…yes, human bodies are all but worthless in christianity. Why do christians look so forward to the next life if this one is so worthwhile? The soul is what’s worthwhile, and the reasoning behind prohibitions against murder, adultery, etc. is that it taints the soul of the offender.
But then he says this…

Reread all of Ben's comments and then consider the atheist attack in general. Every atheist argument starts with the assumption that the universe was not created by a deity. You can sum up their argument by saying, "There is no God, therefore......"

But I'm going to help out my atheist friend here. Assume that the claim is true and proceed from there. You do that with the Qur'an and you find that the claims of Allah's deity are incoherent. You do that with the Bible and it becomes harder and harder to dismiss.

NO. I do no go in simply assuming anything. In this exercise, as in all of them where I talk about the christian god, I assume he’s real for the sake of the exercise. And NO, the bible is not hard to dismiss. In fact, you have it backwards: the Qur’An is a well written piece of poetic literature that does put forth a somewhat coherent argument. Or at least an argument with fewer textual contradictions than the bible, which has over 400 textual contradictions in its pages.

Your final point puzzles me. Why does it matter that Jesus makes you happy? Does that make him real?


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. How about just an objection to the idea of human sacrifice as a means of appeasing a deity. Isn't that concept disgusting enough. Does anyone need to logically dissect the literal interpretation of the story.
    1.) It wont work.
    2.) It is a trap too many atheists fall into with relish.
    3.) To believe literally in this myth, is ridiculous, to try and reason with someone who accepts it, is also ridiculous.

  3. Hello Ben,
    Thanks for the response. Before I reply I would doubt that we agree on nothing as I have had fiery debates with liberals, conservatives, libertarians, atheists and even fellow Christians who think the world is 6,000 years old. I probably agree with you on a number of things. I even recall immigration as being one of them.

    But here, of course, we disagree. First the Trinity. I think water to ice to vapor is a good analogy of the Trinity although I enjoyed your PayPal account story. The Bible states that the Father is the Creator while the Holy Spirit is His counselor who stirs me up every few days while His Son is the historical Messiah who has changed the world forever. Consider this: ALL people live in the Year of Our Lord (AD) 2011.
    The Hebrew Bible, a shockingly reliable historical work, developed over centuries and consistently proclaimed detials, prophecies, of the coming Messiah. God would put Him in charge of His kingdom forever (Genesis 49). If you really had studied the Old Testament you would find it compelling to consider Jesus as the Messiah described in Genesis, Exodus, Numbers, the Psalms, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Zechariah, etc. I don't believe it is possible that any one man or group of people (like the early church) could make up such a character as Jesus of Nazareth.

    By the way, the Skeptic's Annotated Bible is not a serious response to the Bible. it's for sketchy emo nerds. I'm sure you're not one of them. Just look at this gotcha statement here: http://skepticsannotatedbible.com/contra/abe_justified.html Any Bible scholar would know there is no conflict between Abraham's "work" of offering his son and being justified by faith. Biblically, God gives us the very faith to believe so the point is moot. See Romans 3:11. "No one seeks God, no one understands God". Biblically, the only reason we have the concept of God is that he gave it to us. Look even further into that "Abraham offering his son incident". Did you know that God sent Abraham three days journey away from his home to commit that sacrifice? They walked up this small mountain (Gen 22). Abraham said to his servants, "Wait here, WE will come down together". The odd fact is that Abraham knew why they were there; to sacrifice his son. He believed even if he sacrificed his son Isaac (the supernatural child of the promise, see gen 18), that his son would STILL come down the mountain with him. This means that Abraham was convinced that God would honor his sacrifice by bringing Isaac back from the grave. When Isaac nervously asks where the calf is that they're supposed to sacrifice to God, Abraham replies that "The Lord Himself will provide the lamb". You know the rest of the story I suppose. They walked up then-Mount Moriah and God did provide a lamb, stopping Abraham from sacrificing his son.
    This location was so revered that David was called by God to build His temple there on the same spot 1,000 years later. One thousand years after David, a young Nazarene named Jesus was condemned to die at the same spot - the Temple at Jerusalem.

  4. Hi Ben...continuing,
    The Skeptic's Annotated Bible merely uses the "Abraham offering his son" story to try and drive a "contradiction" between Romans and James. The funny thing is that this is just a "chicken and egg" distraction. One writer shows how God rewards by faith, the other shows that no works equals no faith. Of course they're both right. If a selfish idiot claims he has faith in God, he's most likely lying. "If you knew the gift of God" as Jesus said in John 4, the believer would be thankful and primed to serve others.

    I also take issue with "human bodies are all but worthless in christianity". Says who? The sin of the body is nothing more than sin of the spirit. Christianity unifies the two, as in reality.

    Your confidence in the Qur'an is inexplicable. Surah 2 tells us that Muslims must respect Christians and Jews, 49:13 says that God wants us to get to know one another while Surah 9:29-30 and myriad other verses order Muslims to kill anyone who doesn't believe. THAT is truly contradictory.

  5. I realized I didn't finish a thought. If Abraham believed that Isaac was going to return with him down the mountain, then he believed God was going to raise his son from the dead. But, God "provided the lamb", and 2,000 years later, God provided the redemptive sacrifice for all mankind, including me writing this and you, reading it. The lamb, as history reports, was sacrificed and came back from the dead. Coincidence? Keep in mind, Hosea and Psalms 16 and 22 said the same thing. The Scriptures tell the same place, the exact genealogy, the resurrection in 3 days, even the same time (Daniel) that the Messiah would come back from the dead.
    Anyone who says that Jesus being the Messiah is not intellectually tenable..has NO intellect.