Sunday, February 25, 2007

Holtz on Divine Shyness

MYTH
God has not given sufficient evidence of His existence

Holtz.AAC.2002: "The gospel story of a secretive unpublished family-resenting bastard faith healer in the rural outback of a peripheral province of a regional empire seems an unlikely self-revelation for the omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent Creator of the universe:
-Why such ambiguous and picayune miracles? Why not raise a new mountain in the desert, or install a new star in the heavens?
... Why not include in it indisputible [sic] authentication, e.g. by predicting a fundamental physical constant?" In a November 1, 2006 blog post Brian Holtz elaborates on this, saying he "would have added a few simple revelations like the germ theory of disease; the theory of natural selection; the relationship among the Earth, Sun, stars, and Milky Way; basic set theory; non-Euclidean geometry; Newtonian physics; the axioms of special relativity (which are quite simple); and the approximate value of the speed of light (e.g. 'sunlight takes eight minutes to reach Earth')." He adds, "And if you gave me two or three miracle cards to play back in the First Century, you can bet I wouldn't have wasted them on a nativity comet or reviving a still-warm alleged corpse. ... I could have re-arranged the stars into an eye chart spelling out my message in Greek or Latin ... or ... created outside every city a kilometer-long diamond slab with my complete message massively engraved in every extant human language (with a new universal phonetic script to encode unwritten languages). Heck, I could even have just made every household on earth wake up with a stainless still bucket with my face and core doctrines inscribed on it. Why were the miracles of Jesus so much more like those of a faith-healing carpenter than like those of an actual deity with a little bit of imagination?"

Holtz's Blasphemy
Holtz's first long sentence will be addressed in depth in an upcoming post; meanwhile, rest assured that Jesus was not secretive, nor did He resent His family. He was not a bastard, but was born of St. Mary, a lifelong virgin. Jesus was a miracle worker, not a phony placebo/psychosomatic/faith healer.

Christmas Star, Lazarus, and Jesus the Carpenter
The Christmas star was neither a sun nor a comet (no naturalistic explanation), and I have posted evidence that Lazarus was clinically dead. In the last sentence, by calling Jesus a carpenter, Holtz contradicts the AAC paragraph he so often quotes during his debates which says that "He spurned his stepfather's trade of carpentry to take up a ministry proclaiming himself the son not of Joseph but of God."

Holtz's Proposals For 'Better Revelation'
On installing a new star in the heavens or spelling out the message in a stellar eye chart: what's to stop (especially heart-hardened) blind people from distrusting the information others relay to them regarding things that they can't visually/empirically verify for themselves? On Holtz's steel bucket proposal: God has already done something better. In a less blatant way, the omnipresent Holy Spirit is as persuasive as needed to leave room for free choice and a loving, sincere, and lasting relationship between God and His creatures. Men are without excuse because the evidence for God is clear [Ps 19; Rom 1-2]; the heavens declare His majesty. Furthermore, those who see will find [Mt 7:7; Lk 11:9]. That is, the evidence is clear enough for those with an open mind and open heart (vital!), but vague enough to not coerce those with closed minds and hearts. Why wouldn't the steel bucket simply frighten everybody into belief? Being a Christian does not end at conversion (which is not just in the mind--intellectual--but in the heart); it is a lifetime of discipleship and fellowship. The odyssey of conversion, which involves independent decisions and critical thinking, would disappear as we know it. Regarding the diamond message: Is the existence of even a layered, detailed gospel message that could not at all be misinterpreted/irrationally dismissed/distorted logically possible?

Some People Are Stubborn
Brian Holtz and I have both interacted with 9/11 conspiracists, and we both oppose 9/11 conspiracism and obviously find the evidence that 9/11 was indeed carried out by 19 Middle Eastern radical Muslim Al Qaeda terrorists objectively compelling. However, there are still thousands of 9/11 conspiracists! The evidence is there, clear, diverse, and abundant, and yet they reject it and try to rationalize it. Therefore, it is not surprising that people with hardened hearts and closed minds like "the Pharisees [Mt 9:34, 12:13-14, Mk 3:5-6, Jn 9:16-34, esp. Jn 11:48, Lk 6:10-11, 14:4-6], the villagers of Korazin, Bethsaid, and Capernaum [Lk 10:13, Mt 11:20], various Jews [Jn 10:32, 12:37], disciples of Jesus [Jn 6:66]" rejected Jesus. Holtz calls Biblical miracles "consistent with 1) Iron Age myth-making and 2) a perfectly naturalistic and innocent process of delusion, misinterpretation, exaggeration, and embellishment." On the contrary, Holtz's implausible explanations do not suffice for the sample claims listed beside them:
Delusion: Jesus' self-conception
Hallucination: resurrection
Misinterpretation: reanimation of Lazarus, widow's son, and Jairus' daughter; Jesus' divinity claims
Exaggeration: walking on water
Embellishment: Malchus' restored ear
Faith healing: healing of congenitally (that it was disputed does not mean it was false) blind man and hemorrhaging woman

Post-Biblical Miracles
There have been post-Biblical miracles! Two that for all intents and purposes are undeniable are Fatima and the Eucharistic miracle in which a 700 A.D. Italian priest who began to doubt the Real Presence witnessed the transformation of wine into clots of human blood and the bread into human flesh (these treasures, kept in the Vatican, were scientifically tested in 1970 and found to be authentic and fresh as they were over a millennium before). This renders Jn 6:66 unusable as evidence that Jesus' miracles were not real. There is also the miracle of the liquefaction of St. Januarius' blood. Plus, witness the lives of hundreds of other saints; more on that later.

[UNDER CONSTRUCTION]

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