church

Three Questions from a Pastor

My wife is at a bachelorette party this weekend so I get our enchanting little giggle boxes all to myself! These girls are the biggest joys in my life and these are definitely my favorite times! The one-year-old just went down for a nap and the four-year-old (who has just earned the right to watch one episode of her favorite new show) and I are planning a dance party when the little one wakes – so my time for this post is very limited.

The pastor of the church that is doing “The Table” event discussing Questions Christians Hope No One Will Ask (which we’ve been blogging about here, here and here) emailed me three honest questions. I do have an immediate response to each of these but (as you know) I tend to get long-winded and my girls have my day! I also know that my opinions are flawed and your perspective is incredibly valuable. So, I wanted to open these questions up to all of your input – believer or nonbeliever. Please respond with whatever thoughts you have. Here are the questions…

  1. Where do you see the New Testament to be inaccurate historically?
  2. Do you believe in a historical Jesus? If no why?
  3. What are some of the contradictions you see in Scripture?

I’ll put my thoughts in the comments as I have time in the next few days. Her show is almost over – time to party! 🙂 If you have kids, hug them in person or long-distance today!

Gentleness and respect,
–Russell

4 Things That Would Turn This Atheist Into A Believer

I honestly feel like the options are essentially limitless, but I’ll pick 4 for discussion.

1 — A falsification of the Copernican Principle

If I see sufficient compelling evidence to convince me that it is likely that the earth is at or near the center of the universe, I will believe in the existence of some God. I haven’t seen The Principle documentary yet, but it could conceivably provide the beginnings of this evidence.

2 — Waiting for 1

Just in case God limits His manifestations to the shadows of probabilities (the clumpiness of randomness) so as to avoid robbing us of free will, I created a random number generator that’s been running for close to two months. It will continue to generate a new random number every minute and record the lowest number. The odds for the generator were very carefully calculated so that the chance of it coming up with exactly the number “1” by the end of the year 2075 are very close to 1 in 100, or a P value of .01 which is the minimum level of statistical significance that would be compelling for me in this single, non-repeatable case (thus plausibly disproving the null hypothesis). I’m not asking for more than I would ask for in a scientific conclusion, and it’s less than would be required to convince most who truly didn’t want to believe. It could still be a lucky chance, but if I see a “1” from that random number generator in my lifetime, I’d find it in me to believe in a God. I check it almost every day. I may blog about it more later if you’re interested.

3 — An obvious (objective) miracle that I could verify.

It would have to be convincing to me and break the laws of physics as I understand them. Stars aligning to convey information about God, the sun standing still, my mom appearing from the dead and talking to me (descriptions of Jesus or another concept of God would sell me on that specific God concept), etc.

4 — A personal (subjective) revelation that I believe is from a supernatural mind (God).

Sure, the immediate cause for any of these could be advanced aliens, or a God-like non-creator God, or many other things (see iMultiverse). However, I want to believe and I admit that I’m primed for it. I’ll believe in some supernatural God if I can. The notion that, “To be an atheist means that one cannot be convinced of God’s existence,” is incorrect. Most of us ultimately care more about truth than about being right the first time and holding that position in spite of new evidence. In many cases it’s just the evidence that we lack — not the character to adapt to it when we find it. Some of us are actively seeking it.

Your turn

If you’re an atheist/agnostic, what are some things that would convince you of the existence of some God? What about a specific God?

If you’re a believer, what would convince you that another God is real and yours isn’t? What would convince you that no God exists?

Gentleness and respect,
—Russell

Image: Heliocentric model from Nicolaus Copernicus’ De revolutionibus orbium coelestium. Public domain.