[quote author=“unknown”]LETTER TO AN ATHEIST (Part 1 of 2)
Tuesday 3 October 2006, by Alain
To promote “Letter to a Christian Nation,” the new book by avowed atheist Sam Harris, Random House has compiled a litany of quotes presented as words of wisdom from the author and posted them on its website — along with some statistics that are clearly meant to alarm us.
But should we be alarmed by them? And are Harris’ sentiments really words of wisdom?
Is it alarming that 83% of Americans believe that Jesus Christ rose from the dead? Well, it is if you believe (as atheists like Harris do) that the Bible must be accepted purely on faith, without the benefit of corroborating evidence or ever being subjected to rigorous scrutiny of any kind. Yet the Bible itself commands us to test everything (I Thess. 5:21).
And then it also says not to (Matt 4:7)
The KJV says “Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God”. But other translations make it clear that “test” is what it meant, rather than what a speaker of modern English understands by the word “tempt”.
ASV: Jesus said unto him, Again it is written, Thou shalt not make trial of the Lord thy God.
BBE: Jesus said to him, Again it is in the Writings, You may not put the Lord your God to the test.
WEY: “Again it is written,” replied Jesus, “‘Thou shalt not put the Lord thy God to the proof.’”
WEB: Jesus said to him, “Again, it is written,‘You shall not test the Lord, your God.’”
So apparently, you are not to use your critical thinking skills when investigating the Bible’s claims.
[quote author=“unknown”]The truth is that there’s a great deal of historical evidence which supports Christ’s bodily resurrection from the grave. For instance, we have the first-hand testimonies of the disciples of Christ, who witnessed the events surrounding His death and burial then had personal encounters with the Risen Christ in the days that followed. As the apostle Peter explained: “For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty” (II Pet. 1:16).
In all, more than 500 people saw the Risen Christ over a period of several weeks. As Christian apologist Josh McDowell writes in his book “Evidence That Demands a Verdict,” if you brought all of those 500-plus witnesses into a courtroom and allowed them each just six minutes to give their accounts, you would have an astounding 50 hours of first-hand, eyewitness testimony in support of Christ’s bodily resurrection from the grave.
So why is there not written testimony by some of these 500+ witnesses? Why is there nothing recorded in any source outside the Bible? And as for the “first-hand testimonies of the disciples of Christ”, you really need to bone up on your Biblical scholarship, since none of Christ’s disciples apparently authored any of the Gospels. This means it’s not first hand evidence. And what about the darkness which purportedly fell “over all the land” from the sixth hour until the ninth hour (Matt. 27:45; Mark 15:33; Luke 23:44) while Christ was on the cross? Are we really to believe that such an event could transpire without it being recorded in Egypt, Greece, Syria, Arabia, Persia, and the other nations that would have experienced it (assuming it was merely regional, and “all the land” didn’t mean the whole earth, in which case we should also certainly expect the Chinese to have said something about it as well)?
And then there is a reference to the “many saints” who were resurrected after an earthquake opened their tombs at the moment of Jesus’s death and who later went into the city and appeared unto “many” (Matt. 27:52-53). If this had happened, it would have been witnessed by far more people than the resurrection of Jesus, but strangely no one else besides Matthew (not even Mark or Luke) makes any mention this extraordinary event. Why not? The obvious and rational answer is that it’s just another legend that developed along with Christianity. Something so remarkable simply would not have passed unnoticed by historians of the time, and we have the works of several historians who either lived during this time, or within a generation of it, which survives to the present day.
[quote author=“unknown”]Not only were their lives dramatically transformed after seeing and touching and eating with the Risen Christ — when they went from hiding in locked rooms in fear for their lives before the Resurrection to openly and boldly proclaiming the gospel throughout Jerusalem and well beyond after it — but many of these witnesses also sealed their testimonies with their own blood by dying willingly as martyrs rather than renouncing the truth that Christ had risen from the dead.
And yet we have absolutely no historical references for this anywhere outside the Bible. Curious.
[quote author=“unknown”]Combine this with all of the other historical evidence for the Resurrection — the facts surrounding the empty tomb, the inability of the authorities to produce Christ’s corpse after news of His appearances began spreading, the conversion of Saul of Tarsus (enemy and persecutor of the church) to the apostle Paul (writer of two-thirds of the New Testament by inspiration of God) after his own encounter with the Risen Christ, etc. — and you begin to see that it takes more faith not to believe in the Resurrection and to come up with ridiculous hypotheses like “the swoon theory” to try to explain it away than to follow the data where they lead and affirm this supremely-attested historical event.
You are spouting Christian propaganda. This “supremely-attested historical event” is attested to by no other sources than the books of the New Testament, and even they tell versions of it which cannot be reconciled with one another. There is no solid extra-Biblical evidence that Jesus ever even existed in the first place, let alone that he was resurrected.
[quote author=“unknown”]Yet Harris relates with palpable dread: “A person who believes that Elvis is still alive is very unlikely to get promoted to a position of great power and responsibility in our society…But people who believe equally irrational things about God and the bible are now running our country. This is genuinely terrifying.”
Nonsense. There is not a scintilla of evidence to suggest that Elvis is alive; in fact, all of the evidence we have confirms that The King has indeed “left the building” (what the Bible calls our earthly tent, or body). So holding to an “Elvis lives” philosophy is incontestably irrational, whereas faith in Christ’s resurrection is rooted in solid historical data. For this reason, it’s deceptive and intellectually dishonest to try to compare the two beliefs.
There is no more solid evidence that Jesus was resurrected than that Elvis was. A reasonable person will conclude that neither rose from the dead.
[quote author=“unknown”]Another alarming statistic, according to Harris, is that 49% of Americans believe the Bible to be the inspired Word of God.
Actually, this isn’t very surprising at all when you consider the abundance of evidence for the Resurrection, the multitude of specific Bible prophecies that were provably fulfilled hundreds and in some cases even thousands of years after they were recorded, all of the scientific and medical knowledge revealed in the Bible long before being “discovered” by man, and many other infallible proofs for the veracity of Scripture.
So Harris shouldn’t be so chagrined by the fact that a stunning 87% of Americans say they never doubt the existence of God.
There’s simply no reason for them to do so.
There is abundant reason, if they would only shed the indoctrination of evidence-denying theists.