Skip to comments.The Absurdity Of Life Without God - William Lane Craig
Posted on 12/16/2008 10:31:38 AM PST by Michael Eden
click here to read article
Hokay, then, use the early Mormon martyrs as an example instead those were also contemporaneous with the origins of the religion.
Closer to a valid example, but still nada:
There were 11 individuals who claimed that they witnessed the angel Moroni (3) or saw the golden plates (8) that Joseph Smith claimed he copied the Book of Mormon from. None of them were martyred for their Mormonism, and certainly none of them were given the choice between renouncing their Christian faith and death, as were Peter and Paul, for example.
If that isn’t enought to discredit your analogy, it is further the case that the original three so-called “witnesses” - Oliver Cowdery, Martin Harris, and David Whitmer were ALL excommunicated from the Mormon Church. These were the ONLY three who claimed to have received special revelation from God - and they were ALL kicked out of the church, having NOT been martyred.
Of the eight witnesses (all belonging to two families, the Whitmer family and the Smith family), all five of the Whitmers were likewise excommunicated from the church, having never been martyred. The eight claimed merely to have seen the golden plates, which doesn’t really seem to amount to much (as gold plates hardly constitute a divine miracle or supernatural sign from God).
If you want to insist that this story is tantamount to the lives of the disciples of Jesus, I certainly can’t stop you. But I certainly don’t see it.
Faith is bigger than choice. Faith is deeper than choice. Faith isn’t driven by benefit, but sacrifice.
Whatever that means.
Faith has an object, and faith in an unworthy object is itself unworthy. If I started carrying a chair around, thinking my chair could save me, I’d be a fool no matter how profound my faith in the chair was.
Furthermore, faith isn’t something that just “happens” to us; we are active participants in our faith, and we could certainly choose to ignore or even abandon it. We DO “choose” our faith in this sense: As Joshua put it, “CHOOSE this day whom you will serve” (Joshua 24:15). And we CHOOSE how far we will go in living for what we claim to believe. Some people can’t even get out of their bed and go to church; others travel to the ends of the earth to die as martyrs reaching out to evangelize tribes of aborigines (such as Nate Saint). You don’t think “choice” has anything to do with that?
And I don’t understand why you “dis” benefit as being something that contradicts sacrifice. People who save their money for a better day later on sacrifice what they COULD have in the present by blowing it all. And I would in fact submit to you that that very much IS faith, as Hebrews 11:26 proves regarding Moses:
“He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, FOR HE WAS LOOKING TO THE REWARD.”
Faith in the Christian sense means a personal trust in a person - namely God - and a confidence that He will do what He says. And in point of fact I believe in Heaven because Jesus Christ, the divine Son of God, promised me I would one day receive it (John 14:1-4).
If you profess to understand faith more than Jesus, more than His apostles, and more than two centuries of the greatest Christian minds, I cannot stop you. But as far as I am concerned, you are completely wrong in your understanding.
Illinois Governor Thomas Ford proposed a trial by a non-Mormon jury in Carthage, the county seat, and guaranteed Smith's safety. Smith originally planned on leaving rather than surrendering but when criticized by some followers is reported to have said, "If my life is of no value to my friends it is of none to myself." Smith reluctantly agreed and submitted to arrest, further quoted as saying "I am going like a lamb to the slaughter; but I am calm as a summers morning; I have a conscience void of offense towards God, and towards all men. I shall die innocent, and it shall yet be said of me he was murdered in cold blood."There you have it -- by your own argument, proof positive that the angel Moroni did hand Joseph Smith the golden plates, as evidenced by his willingness to face death as a result of his religious boat-rocking.
On 25 June 1844, Joseph and Hyrum Smith, along with the other fifteen city council members and some friends, surrendered to Carthage constable William Bettisworth on the original charge of riot. Almost immediately Joseph and Hyrum were charged with treason against the state of Illinois for declaring martial law in Nauvoo, by a warrant founded upon the oaths of A. O. Norton and Augustine Spencer. At a preliminary hearing that afternoon the city council members were released on $500 bonds, pending later trial. The judge ordered Joseph and Hyrum Smith to be held in jail until they could be tried for treason, a capital offense.
Of course I see it and I realise my perspective comes from one who does believe. I suppose that is my point that God does exist and so meaning and purpose, and or the search for them are inherent in humans. The points Craig makes are awesome and I really enjoyed the article.
First of all, I have to congratulate you on the tenacity of your religious faith commitment to atheism; you have gone far to post your religious views over and over again, such that people would have the same beliefs and faith as you.
Let’s make sure we’re talking same-same here: As I said in my last comment, there were ONLY three men along with Joseph Smith who claimed to have witnessed a supernatural event associated with Mormonism. And the three were excommunicated. That leaves ONLY Joseph Smith.
Here is the account of Smith’s death in wikipedia:
The death of Joseph Smith, Jr. on 27 June 1844 marked a turning point for the Latter Day Saint movement, of which Smith was the founder and leader. When he was assassinated by a mob, Smith was serving as the mayor of Nauvoo, Illinois, and running for President of the United States. He was killed while jailed in Carthage, Illinois on charges relating to his ordering the destruction of facilities producing the Nauvoo Expositor, a newspaper whose first and only edition claimed Smith was practicing plural marriage and that he intended to set himself up as a theocratic king. While Smith was in jail awaiting trial, an armed mob of men with painted faces stormed the jail and shot him and his brother Hyrum to death. Latter Day Saints view Joseph and Hyrum as martyrs.
So Joseph Smith - who was in jail basically charged with arson, and who had actually fled New York after being charged with fraud - is in jail when a crowd comes in and kills him.
You want to make the claim that that rises to the level of the 11 apostles’ martyrdoms, what can I do? If you want to say that a man who fled a state after being charged with fraud, a man who pushed for polygamy, a man who believed that blacks were evil because of the color of their skin, and say that that this man is comparable with the apostles, I can’t stop you.
But let’s make sure we understand something: My claim is this: you don’t knowingly die for something you know to be false. That is different from being willing to die for something you believe to be true (which millions of Christians have done, and, yes, which some terrorist suicide bombers have done, and which some Mormons have done). And being willing to die for what you believe is a very strong indicator that you sincerely believe what you claim to believe in.
Are you denying that is self-obviously true? Are you saying that a man who is willing to die for his beliefs - and in fact DOES die for them - is not more credible than someone who says, “Trust me”? Is THAT what you’re claiming?
I frankly am at a loss as to what you think you’re accomplishing by citing the single case of Joseph Smith, except to make the utterly ridiculous claim that dying for one’s belief is no indicator that a person sincerely believed that belief to be true.
The 11 - and of course the women (Mary Magdalene among them), and the 500 witnesses that Paul cites in 1 Corinthians 15) sincerely and passionately believed what they claimed to have witnessed was true, and they went to the wall for their testimony. Paul suffered numerous jailings, beatings, shipwreckings, and two substantial terms in prison for his faith before finally being put to death. Their martydom takes away the charge that they were just inventing a story. Unlike Joseph Smith, they didn’t seek to run for President, or get rich from their religious movement. The New Testament evidence is pretty clear that Paul had very little. He had to work to support his ministry (1 Thessalonians 2:9), and by the time he faced his final imprisonment in Mannheim prison in Rome, he had little more than a cloak and some scrolls.
If you cite a Joseph Smith or anyone else (and by the way, even Joseph Smith would still qualify as someone who testified to the supernatural nature of Jesus Christ, so I don’t see how he helps you), all you can do is make the claim that others were willing to die for their testimony that what they say happened happened. You can make the claim that others were willing to die for what they claimed was true. That helps you how, exactly?
Of course I see it and I realise my perspective comes from one who does believe. I suppose that is my point that God does exist and so meaning and purpose, and or the search for them are inherent in humans. The points Craig makes are awesome and I really enjoyed the article
They really are. The lecture is powerful to anyone who watches or reads it. I noted that something like 1400 people have viewed it from my posting along. I hope many more get a chance to encounter it.
One thing that is very interesting to me is how so many arguing against the Craig article have steadfastly attempted to avoid debating the actual article.
I’ve got steve-b here bringing in Joseph Smith. I don’t remember Bill Craig mentioning Joseph Smith.
What Craig does in this article is points out the simple fact that there is no purpose, value, or meaning apart from God or eternity. And people have tried to fixate on Pascal’s Wager, or Joseph Smith, or whatever - anything but deal with the force of the article!
There are about 10 people here in Oz who have viewed it from emails I sent out too!
Obviously, because it proves that some people are willing to die for a mistake or a delusion. Ergo, martyrdom proves nothing about the truth of the martyr's beliefs.
the 500 witnesses that Paul cites
When someone says "there are 500 witnesses", that is a statement from one witness. Without first-hand statements from the 500 alleged witnesses, it has no more evidentiary value than a post stating "The lurkers support me in e-mail".
You can make the claim that others were willing to die for what they claimed was true. That helps you how, exactly?
Obviously, because it proves that some people are willing to die for a mistake or a delusion. Ergo, martyrdom proves nothing about the truth of the martyr’s beliefs.
the 500 witnesses that Paul cites
When someone says “there are 500 witnesses”, that is a statement from one witness. Without first-hand statements from the 500 alleged witnesses, it has no more evidentiary value than a post stating “The lurkers support me in e-mail”.
Your first statement is simply asinine. Let me get this straight: would you argue that a bad scientific experiment negates the validity of science? That’s what you’ve done here. You are saying that if you can find ONE example where a witness died for a mistake or delusion the entire testimony of martyrs beliefs are therefore rendered worthless. I don’t know how to be polite here. That is flat out stupid. Our entire system of justice is based on the testimony of witnesses. Does the fact that witnesses haven’t always been 100% correct mean that we’ve thrown out witness testimony? You are clearly revealed to be so determined in your ideology that you cannot and will not see straight when you say stuff like that.
What is important to understand is that a martyr - by his act of martyrdom - demonstrates that he clearly believes that what he is dying for is true. He could be mistaken, and he could be deluded. But he believes it with a commitment that goes as far as a commitment can go.
In the case of Mormonism, as I demonstrated, you end up with ONE guy, Joseph Smith, who meets the criterion of someone who claims to have witnessed a supernatural reality, and then dies at the hand of enemies.
But he isn’t exactly the best witness, either. He fled from criminal charges of fraud in New York State. And he further demonstrated that he wanted power, that he was using his role as “prophet” to advance himself politically. He ran for President in 1844, and was apparently “deluded” enough to believe he’d actually win. Contrast this with the testimony of the first followers of Christ. They weren’t men running away from criminal pasts; there is nothing to undermine their assumption of integrity. And they did not seek to advance their own power. They had the mission of spreading the message of Christ, and that was it. Furthermore, there were many of them, not just one guy, as in the case of Joseph Smith.
Further, his “martydom” was the result of a mob storming a jail where he was being held because of an arson charge. Let me contrast his death with the martydom of THOUSANDS of early Christians who lived during the time of Christ. During the reign of Nero, a Christian had merely to renounce Christianity and walk away. He had only to burn incense to the gods, and he or she was free to go. They literally CHOSE to die rather than give up their faith. Joseph Smith’s death was nothing like that.
For the first thousand years of Christianity, there was one and only one polemic used against the disciples. That they stole the body and invented a religion. But this is the weakest charge of all: their martyrdoms prove they sincerely believed what they claimed to have witnessed. They did not invent a story, suffer all kinds of hardships spreading the news of the story, travel to the ends of the known earth, and meet their deaths trying to spread a religion that they knew to be false. So if you’re going to attack Christianity, you can’t do it on the basis of fraud. Because the only fraud is the one making the claim.
You are also wrong about your claim of the 500 witnesses. The reason is simple: Paul wrote 1 Corinthians in AD 56. He says, “Then He appeared to more than 500 brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep” (1 Cor 15:6). The point is that they were still alive, and Paul was inviting anyone to go down and TALK to them. As Luke writes in his introduction to Luke and Acts: “Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, it seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everyting carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in consecutive order for you, most excellent Theophilus, that you might know the exact truth about the things you have been taught” (Luke 1:1-4)
Luke TALKED to the eyewitnesses. So the fact is you are wrong: it wasn’t about one guy inventing 500 more; it was about there being myriad witnesses to the testimony of Jesus and the first Christians. That is why the Jews opposing Christianity could only claim that the disciples stole the body; because ALL the OTHER facts were on the Christians’ side, and they had the testimony of witnesses to confirm it.
Way to go! Keep spreading the word!
The Craig article is a treasure trove. You can read it over and over again, and still keep learning from it.
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