Here’s a Really Big Question.

If God appeared,  how many people would agree that, yes, that was really God?  Conversely, how many would say, no,  it really was not God?  Unless we know what God is, we will never be able to determine whether or not he has appeared.

This dilemma, not being able to express what God is in a way others can agree on, is an on-going problem.  Joeseph Smith said he heard from God and started the Mormon church.  Pat Robertson recently said God told him who the Republican nominee is going to be.  Because there is no agreed upon definition as to how God speaks to people, these claims can be neither comfirmed nor denied.

Some might scoff, “Anyone can claim they heard God speak.  It’s only when we see God we will know.”  But, there is no agreement as to what we will see when we see God.

There will be as many disagreements on whether or not someone has seen God as there are about hearing God speak.  Will the God appear like it does in the movies, with choirs singing and special effects lighting?  Or, will God be in a rabbit that runs across the road?

The Christian says he knows God and will know when he comes. The Hindu says exactly the same thing.

Neither of these people will recognize the god of the other.  The concept of a god will remain an arbitrary one until someone can come up with a definition all can agree on.

Avatar of Jon Lindgren

About Jon Lindgren

I am a former President of the Red River Freethinkers in Fargo, ND, a retired NDSU economics professor and was Mayor of Fargo for 16 years. There is more about me at Wikipedia.com.
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41 Responses to Here’s a Really Big Question.

  1. Avatar of Mac Mac says:

    For years I have said, if Jesus arrived on earth today, the fundamentalist Christians would kill him.

  2. entech says:

    If such an entity did exist, the omnipotent, omniscient creator of everything; and after all these thousands of years did condescend to put in an appearance one would hope that it would make it obvious and irrefutable.
    The history of fighting over faith and puerile prophecy would only continue if even the smallest amount of doubt was possible; just look at the blood that has been shed over relatively minor points of doctrine.

  3. Bob says:

    Jesus should be hunted down and held on trial for not lifting a finger to help anyone. All that power of the whole universe, all that evil control over people, for all this time, and not once, in 2 thousand years, has he done anything to help his so called beloved flock, or bleating sheep. Not even one starving little kid somewhere. He’s a jerk and the best thing is if he’s forgotten.

    • Wanna B Sure says:

      “Jesus should be hunted down and held on trial for not lifting a finger to help anyone”. Pretty much an accurate description of what was a major reason for his crucifiction. Much of the Jewish community was expecting him (the Messiah) to relieve them of the burden of the Roman Empire. When they saw that wasn’t happening in the secular sense, they turned on him, and I suspect like a feeding frenzy. I also suspect there was some consternation within the Jewish higherarchy of him reducing their authority. He after all didn’t show much support of their behavior. They then turned to the Roman authorities and instigated fear in them (Pilot) that Jesus was against Rome too. (They could not tolerate a secular “King of the Jews”). We have to remember though that “My kingdom is not of this earth”. This no few could understand, then or now. The Roman authorities had to deal with him in the manner they did from their understanding to save the peace and security of Rome and it’s officals. Not all however felt this way, yet they did not immediately understand the ramifications of what just happened. Later, others came with secular claims of messianic non spiritual ambition, and they also were crushed.

      Bob’s statement is quite consistent with much of what was goin on at the time, and ……now. Not much has changed in the eyes of the world at large.

      Today, the Christian Zionists are in about the same position. They are expecting Jesus to come again and rule on earth for a thousand years. (Historical Christianity does/has not accepted that. I suspect that if the time frames, (dispensations) don’t exactly fit into the Zionist’s frame of thought, they also “will make plots” too. No, the Jews did not kill Christ. Unbelief and the secular did. Again, not much has changed, and” Bob” is a good spokesman for that. Thank you Bob for making the past current.

      • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

        Wanna 2:25 I nice summary of the story telling in the Bible. Whether it all happened actually as you explained it we will never know.

        Since there is not corroberating evidence of all this, it really not important whether we conclude , “Unbelief and the secular” killed Jesus, or, he died of old age.

        • Wanna B Sure says:

          Jon; “No corroberating evidence”? Start with Josephus. Not hardly a Christian apologist.

        • Wanna B Sure says:

          Then go to Lucian, Tranquilllas, Julian, Tacitus, Pliny, and the Talmud, just to name a few. Most of which were not Christian, and shortly after the event. It is best to have at least a small grasp of subject matter before making short uninformed and” cute” quips.

      • entech says:

        Fascinating, I could almost have written it myself. Except for the bit about unbelief and secular being the cause of his death, That I would suggest was the raw ambition and “consternation within the Jewish higherarchy of him reducing their authority” combined with Roman intolerance of dissent. The same intolerance which later led to the persecution of the early Christian groups.

        • Wanna B Sure says:

          Entech; Your ‘…Raw ambition…Roman intolerence for dissent” was implied, but you did more sharply put it. You aren’t saying that the Jews were the “Christ killers” are you?

          • entech says:

            I think the expression used is deicide and the Church of Rome has recently exonerated them who am I to argue with the infallible?
            To kill a god one needs to have a god to kill and as I have said your Jesus was just a man. The monotheist god of Abraham and Mohammad may or may not exist but the Trinitarian idea is an invention by Paul, along with other stuff, to make the idea more palatable to the gentiles.

            You talk to Jon about corroboration, we have been through this before, all your references are to Christians and one could hardly deny the existence of Christians but that is not the point, the point is what corroboration is there for Jesus being the Son of God (not actually the son because he is coexistent, coeternal, consubstantial: is this the same but different? But there is more the only begotten of the unbegotten – I won’t bore you anymore) and I would agree with Jon, there is nothing outside of the ranting of his loyal followers to suggest that he had any supernatural connection at all. Even the much quoted, and disputed, Josephus said something about the religious group who said that their leader was of divine origin, if he had believed that he would have converted; the subject of the topic is “what is God” and secondary parts is how would we recognise the deity?
            Assuming something more substantial than a burning bush in the desert with one witness or stone carving with one witness, I would contend that the only scientific reaction would have to be acceptance, the proof and verifiable reproduction of phenomena would be provided – the only people who would fight against this are people with deep-seated delusions based on some strange interpretation of some strange old writings and they would, en masse, say it was the work of Satan sent to test their faith, because the God that was being demonstrated was not “The One” that they wanted or believed in. Again no proof and no consistent and coherent description is available.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            Entech; I am well aware of your position.
            I think we need Jon to explain his “..or he died of old age” using the sources provided. For example Tacitis, “extreme penalty”; Talmud, “hanged on a tree”, (with nails), etc.
            Your “ranting of his followers” would be more reliable than his detractors as his detractors then and now certainly would not martyr themselves without reason immediately following, and through the centuries without just cause. Mass hysteria just does not last that long. Of course you deny the third person of the Trinity that creates and sustains faith in the followers. You clearly refuse the two natures of Christ. Again I understand why you do. I do not. You clearly don’t like Paul, I strongly accept the reliable testimony of Paul.
            Well, there it is. You go your way frustrated with those of faith, and I go comforted in that faith.
            Have a nice day.

          • entech says:

            Wanna 12:42 am. If I had said the bit about “died of old age” who would quite rightly but it down as a bit of hyperbole. You tell me “I think we need Jon to explain his “..or he died of old age” using the sources provided” if you read it again I think you will see that you are taking it out of context.
            take it in point form:
            * No corroborating evidence – this is the assumption on which Jon basis his argument;
            * The conclusion reached is not important because there is no evidence;
            * Therefore the cause of death could be anything, lack of belief by the unbeliever, or,
            * Could just as well have reached a ripe old age.

            Nowhere does he make a statement about the death of Jesus that requires any explanation based on any sources provide, especially as it is clear that he does not accept the sources as being valid and reliable. What he does say is that because he does not see any reliable evidence the conclusion derived does not matter. So it could be expanded, again speculation based on no acceptable evidence:
            * Jesus spent many of his ‘missing’ years in India studying yoga, he did not die on the cross but put himself into a death like trance in order to “prove” he rose from the dead.
            * Jesus married Mary of Magdala and ran off to live a quiet life, his ministry was taken over by his previously unknown twin brother.
            *Jesus was a local entertainer a kind of stage magician (Penn and Teller?) and his fans got carried away.
            You could go on making up stupid scenarios based on no evidence and each would have the same relevance, zero.

            Attack to defend is often a good tactic, but sometimes people try too hard to defend the indefensible. Show just one source from outside of the Christian Church where any writer said, “These Christians are right, there is one God and Jesus is his son, Must believe in Jesus and be saved” and then failed to concert and continued to mock and/or persecute? There is no confirmation of divinity outside of the group of true believers, by definition there cannot be.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            Entech; Is your name Jon?

          • entech says:

            No, Thought you knew my name was David, fine and honourable Hebrew name.
            If you see the first line of the post that prompted your question “Wanna 12:42 am. If I had said the bit about “died of old age” who would quite rightly but it down as a bit of hyperbole. You tell me “I think we need Jon to explain his “..or he died of old age” ”

            This was addressed to me and I answered it, but on the other hand, it is a public forum, be a bit boring if every time, say, Bob made a comment and nobody responded it would get pretty boring. A whole series of monologues and no conversation. Actually, some people don’t recognise anything but their own words and that is what we get anyway.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            Entech; But to answer your concerns of lack of validation from “outside sources”. Once those on “the outside” became believers based on what they saw immediately before and after the resurection of The Christ, they would no longer be “Outside Sources”‘. At first, they were almost all Jews. That would also include Paul. Later Gentiles came to the faith. Outside, then inside. Your demand from outside sources falls flat. You can’t accept the former outsiders once they became “insiders”. Of course everything changed with the completion of the work of Jesus. The Old Covenent had been fulfilled, and the New Covenent including the OT became the whole. And the major one on the outside, (Paul) came to the inside, and you reject him too. (with a vengence). Oh well.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            To put it most simply; There is no believing outsider independent of the faith. Your demand for that coroberation will not happen or is not possible. The two do not exist due to their very nature. Nice try.

          • entech says:

            Wanna your 2:18 is incomprehensible and your 2:30 only reiterates what I said.

            The divine nature is only confirmed by believers, obviously if they did not believe they could not confirm. The tautology is so obvious I am surprised you did not attack me on that, I would have had no defense.

            So the introduction Pliny et.al. falls flat (or perhaps does not fly) unless you would confirm the existence of the early church, which has never been denied, or the argument about the existence of Jesus as a historical figure. You can make a reasonable case against the actual historical entity but I am not convinced either way, on this I am agnostic with a bias towards acceptance as true, on the question of divinity I am most definitely not agnostic with a bias towards rejection, I do reject the possibility.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            I know it is hard for you to understand because everything I have said is evidently beyond your comprehension. “Hardened heart” comes to mind. Actually I believe impossible would be more accurate. I am truly saddened by your situation. It is beyond you. I won’t say I feel sorry for you, as I’m sure that would be insulting, and that is not my intent.

          • entech says:

            Wanna 2:59 Actually nothing you say is beyond my comprehension, impossible as a better description, still not quite right. You see I do know what you mean and understand what you say, I simply do not believe that a lot of it is valid. The impossibility of comprehension comes from your side, it is ‘hard for you to understand’ that I am not convinced by your words. So you say I have ‘hardened my heart’, ‘choose’ not to believe and so on: tell me, how does one choose what to believe, you are either convinced by the argument you are not. I could start saying things about you having fingers in your ears, reciting bible verses while some one is speaking so that you don’t have to hear and similar accusations, but it NOT be true, you can and do understand all the arguments for and against but you ‘choose’ to accept the religious interpretation, and please no specious nonsense about not choosing but being chosen.
            Please don’t be saddened by my situation, I am perfectly cheerful, it is not beyond me! in this sense it is my choice.
            Please do say you are sorry for me if that is what you truly feel. I would not think of it as insulting at all, it would actually say more about you than me.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            Didn’t say “you” have hardened your heart. Free will isn’t as free as one would think. You use philosophy very adroitly. “beware of sophestry”. A calous does not form overnight.

      • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

        Wanna 2:25 “Bob’s statement is quite consistent with much of what was going on at the time, and… now.”

        I’ve alway been curious about why this argument, “There have always been doubters” is brought, seemingly to strengthen the case that the Bible stories really happened. There have always been doubter of other gods, and, of the no god group. Perhaps that is why they, too, are correct.

        • Wanna B Sure says:

          Interesting injection , not germain to the topic at hand. An attempt to confuse the subject and try to lead away from your claims. Sorry.

          • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

            Wanna 3:52 “Not germain to the topic at hand.”

            In my opinion, what is really germain (althought people are free to discuss whatever they want here) is the question raised in the blog, how can we ever treat seriously the quote attributed to Jesus, “I am not of this world”? There is no agreement about the other “world”–until there is, it’s just one more tale from around the campfire.

            As one of the ignostic sites said, “It doesn’t matter whether a meaningless concept is presented accurately or not.”

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            Sorry. dosen’t fly.

          • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

            Wanna 5:02 “Sorry, doesn’t fly.”
            It is interesting to me to compare these kinds of discussions with discussions/debates in other venues. In the U. S. court system, there is a protocol for deciding what evidence is “admissible”. So, a thrid party, the court/judge, representing only the motive of getting to the truth of the matter, has a role in determining what is an argument related to moving toward the truth and what is not.

            In these kinds of discussions, both sides are free to make up their own rules as to what can be entered into the debate. The faith side has this rule that no rigorous or ration arugument is fair. The only admissible items are those which involve being smitten with the faith. “We must have faith,” is treated like evidence of truth.

            Thus, it is considered fair to argue about what might have been meant the stories in the Bible. Not fair is to question whether the concepts, such as heaven, sin and hell are valid in any objective sense.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            Jon; Retreat to your 3:o4; review; then Google “Non biblical evidence of Jesus; click on at least the first two; contemplate; Stay on point.

          • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

            Wanna 6:41 There is a distinction rational observers make with regard to the character in the Bible called Jesus. It is between one of many people wandering across the desert preaching about this or that, one of which might have been the Jesus talked about later (there were three or four people named Jesus) and a devince being. Not so rational observers assume that every reference to a Jesus were to a devine being.

            Rational observers also note that Christian historians relentlessly move the time of undated material about Jesus closer and closer to the time of the alledged person. It’s part of the game.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            Jon; Re. your ” The faith side has this rule that no rigerous or ration (al)? arugument is fair”; Simply not true. As evidenced by your evasion of your 3:04, you are guilty of your own accusations. Strange.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            Jon; “Jesus” and it’s variations was a common name then as it is today in the Latino communities. In fact, Mary and Joseph and their variations were also common at the time. Then there also “Messiah, The Christ,” and other TITLES applied to the Jesus of the Bible that were not applied to the street similarities. The detractors of the New Testament also try to put back as far as possible including the Gnostic Gospels so as to make the salvation history not reliable. I won’t give you sources for the evidence of the Gospels and Letters being written earlier than claimed by those of non belief, as you would also reject them too. Other than that , the remainder of your comments are irrelevant.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            Jon; In case you doubt my use of TITLES applied to Jesus, again go to Pliney, Tacitus, and there you will see that they applied Christus to the Jesus in the Bible. I am sure you are aware that “Christ” was not the last name of Jesus, rather a title. In Hebrew tradition his name would have been Jesus bar Joseph, (son of Joseph), at least in the human nature of him.
            Hence no confusion as to who “Jesus” would have been compaired to all the other Jesus’s out there, and Joshua, and Yeshua, (which actually had a religious connotation.

          • entech says:

            Wanna 1:04 Please, I beg you, forgive my temerity but I do have a comment and a question I would like to ask.
            You say there can be no confusion about which Jesus was which as in Jesus bar Joseph. I would like your thoughts on the story that “the Christ Jesus” was not actually crucified and that he was the one that was turned loose. Pilate in a bit of showmanship and sarcastic reference to the claims of divinity (evaded by the answer “your words not mine”) and thinking the priests had the support of the people, offered to free the “Son of the Father”, Jesus bar Abbas and when this was applauded and accepted he had no choice but to free the son of the father.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            Interesting concept, and a play on words; Mark 15:7 thru 15. I will not for convenience insert here, but clearly based on this, Jesus was not Barabbas. Funny that I haven’t even seen this concept presented by the Jews, but at the time, they wouldn’t want to even admit to that. They and the Romans wanted him dead- dead and gone.

          • entech says:

            Probably not a true tale based on the the historical rather than the biblical Pilate, The Jewish historians Josephus and Philo describe Pontius Pilate as a stubborn, inflexible, and cruel man who had no respect for the Jewish people.

        • entech says:

          Jon 3:40 I think the main point about “there have always been doubters” is that there always was and always will be doubts, that is the most difficult part of the universe for the faithful, how is it possible for anyone to doubt what is to me so obvious and undeniable, I don’t need proof I just need faith? How dare those atheists < insert alternative epithet if desired> question my faith, it takes a lot to twisting and turning to reach the stage of unquestioning belief and having worked so hard I will not change now?

          See my 4:22 am to qualify my statement that there will always be doubts, quite clearly irrefutable proof would alter the case, there is no precedent for a personal appearance, lots of good disguises though.

  4. Wanna B Sure says:

    My wife is still over seas. Not much else to do. Next topic?

  5. Bob says:

    Zeesh…what a lot of blah, blah, blah, blah, rubbish.

  6. snooganator says:

    faith–if someone comes to you and said..I AM THE MESSIAH. would you believe him/her or would you require the supposed messiah to perform a miracle or somesort? logically, this is an ambiguous situation due to damned if you dont and damned if you dont clause. ultimately, religion is a tool used by a few individuals to control mass of people. truth is relative and so is life. when truth trumps fear, only then we shall know the real truth.

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