Why believe the god of the Bible is God?


#1

Let us suppose that a 1st century Jew named Jesus rose from the dead. Let us suppose that he said and did everything attributed to him in the Bible; walked on water, turned water into wine, created fish and bread, etc. and that we had good reason to believe these events occurred, aside from faith. Furthermore let us suppose that we had very good reason to believe that all paranormal events apart from creation itself occurred as reported in the bible, from the point of view of those who witnessed them.

The question I would like to raise is this: granting such assumptions, what justifies the belief that the creator of the universe exists and is behind all or any of these events? Aren’t there a tremendous number of OTHER possible, lesser, entities or things that could have been responsible for these events, and other more recent purported miracles? Why jump right away to the creator of the universe? Why not some sort of alien (perhaps capable of extra-dimensional travel) or magical being?

It would seem far more reasonable not to go strait to the top, especially when you consider the variety of purported miracles in different religions, and the existence of seemingly equally plausible rival religions. If the creator of the universe is as powerful as we would suppose he would be, he could do a much better job of making it clear what his preferred religion is. The variety we witness seems to point to being or set of beings of limited power (if any consciousness is involved at all). Perhaps there are several factions of such beings, each supporting a different religion, or only one being or group of beings who isn’t concerned to establish one dominant belief system among humans.

In short: Perhaps the god of the Bible isn’t God at all. Even if there were people who observed the incredible events recorded in the Bible, or who have religious experiences they correctly attribute to a personality outside of their own mind today, why would it be warranted to suppose that the creator of the universe is responsible for these occurrences? Even if the god of the bible claims to be God, why should we believe it?


#2

I think it is very possible that the being (or maybe beings) that we call “God” are not at all the all powerful, all perfect, all everything we think they are. I say this because there is no way for us to recognize or discern the difference between an “all everything” God and a being who is merely incredibly more powerful and intelligent than us.

Sure, we define the God we worship to be this all everything being but there is no way to tell that this is true. There is no way to rate the all-powerfulness of something almost infinitely more powerful than oneself.

We can’t tell that God is all-knowing and all-loving…and there are certainly many examples where this diesn’t appear to be true. And yet we assign these attributes to God because that is how we define the God we worship.


#3

But isn’t that a problem? I mean, WHY suppose the god of the Bible is the creator of the universe? Shouldn’t one reserve judgement on that point, if one is to be honest with one’s self and others? How would Catholics respond to that from the point of view of apologetics?

Thanks,
Michael


#4

The ancient world was polytheistic. There is a distinction that historians like to make between types of monotheism. There is theoretical monotheism (e.g. there is only one supreme God and no other gods exist, or if they do, they are really lesser created beings), and practical monotheism (e.g. there are many gods, but we worship this one specific god exclusively).

The history of the old testament is a slow struggle and progression away from polytheism to practical and then theoretical monotheism. The Jews, along with the Greeks had achieved this level of monotheism. This was a revealed truth via the prophets, but it also had an intellectual foundation which both the Greeks and the Jews developed along different lines. God was one, creator of all things, all powerful, all knowing. The creator and sustainer of all being.

This was the God of Jesus of Nazareth, and the God of the Jews. When he said, “Before Abraham was, I AM.” he made a statement that was blasphemous to the Jews and sheer madness to the Greeks because of their elevated concept of God.

The question I would like to raise is this: granting such assumptions, what justifies the belief that the creator of the universe exists and is behind all or any of these events?

There are many arguments for the existence of God that I think are convincing. I find it very probably that since we are finite, limited beings, and cannot arrive at a natural knowledge of God, that He would reveal Himself to us. I find it extraordinary that this revelation would culminate in the incarnation. This is the great emptying of the Godhead. The great decent into our nothingness, revealing a God of mercy and love.

Aren’t there a tremendous number of OTHER possible, lesser, entities or things that could have been responsible for these events, and other more recent purported miracles?

Well as Catholics, we believe in intermediate beings such as angels and demons and they are often ascribed agency in miraculous events. However, the angels all point us to God. They are servants of a higher power and they all point to Him.

Assuming that God’s providential care extends to all nations, then I would not be surprised that miracles happen there according to the plan of God.

Why jump right away to the creator of the universe? Why not some sort of alien (perhaps capable of extra-dimensional travel) or magical being?

Again, truth is truth. If it comes by mediation of aliens, whom the ancients called angels, well, why not? Of course, I find the concept of spiritual beings not bound by time and space far more interesting (and orthodox).

The Christian revelation is a message from the “other side”. That message gives meaning and purpose to our lives as Christians. But we only have access to that message through faith which established a relationship of trust between the believer and his Creator. It is only on the basis of this trust that we can come to understand the inner logic of that revelation.

Ut


#5

We can know God exists by natural reason. Everything in the material world has a beginning and an end. Granted, we can’t know anything about God without Divine Revelation. We have evidence that God became man from the writings of the Apostles. These men gave their lives to proclaim the Gospel. Why would these men lay down their lives for a lie? It would be irriational to lay down your life for a lie. No evidence exists to suggest that the Apostles were irrational men.

Given what we know about the Apostles, it’s rational to believe everything they taught about Christ. Do you have the same evidence regarding aliens or magical beings? There is far more evidence about Christ than there is about aliens or magical beings.
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It would seem far more reasonable not to go strait to the top, especially when you consider the variety of purported miracles in different religions, and the existence of seemingly equally plausible rival religions. If the creator of the universe is as powerful as we would suppose he would be, he could do a much better job of making it clear what his preferred religion is. The variety we witness seems to point to being or set of beings of limited power (if any consciousness is involved at all). Perhaps there are several factions of such beings, each supporting a different religion, or only one being or group of beings who isn’t concerned to establish one dominant belief system among humans. [/size][/FONT]
Maybe the problem lies not with the Creator but with the creature. Christ did many miracles and His own people still rejected Him. The Apostles, except for St. John, ran and hid on Good Friday. They were even slow to believe the He rose from the dead even when He appeared to them.

God has revealed His preferred religion. He just isn’t going to force us to accept it. Free will means just that, we are free to do as we will. We can say why doesn’t God do something we think He should do if He’s all powerful, but then we are deciding what God should do. Isaiah 55:8-9 says it best: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts: nor your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are exalted above the earth, so are my ways exalted above your ways, and my thoughts above your thoughts.”

Continued in next post…


#6

Continued from previous post…
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In short: Perhaps the god of the Bible isn’t God at all. Even if there were people who observed the incredible events recorded in the Bible, or who have religious experiences they correctly attribute to a personality outside of their own mind today, why would it be warranted to suppose that the creator of the universe is responsible for these occurrences? Even if the god of the bible claims to be God, why should we believe it? [/FONT][/size]
Why should we believe the material world is all that exists? Why should we believe in extra-terrestrial beings? Why should we believe the entire material universe evolved from nothing?

St. Augustine, in De Utilitate Credendi, says, “Faith is nothing else than thinking with assent.” Faith has to be reasonable, but it also must assent to truths which the human mind cannot comprehend on its own. The witness of the Apostles and the early Church martyrs gives witness to such “thinking with assent.” Faith, which is a free gift from God, is needed if we are to assent to Divine Revelation. All the miracles in the world won’t produce faith. Archbishop Fulton Sheen said that faith produces miracles; miracles don’t produce faith.

The fact the Catholic Church not only exists today but teaches what the Apostles taught is reasonable enough proof that God exists and founded a Church. Those who choose not to believe what they know through faith to be true do so at their own peril.

St. Paul has this to say in Romans 1:17-25 about those who continue in their vincible ignorance: “For the justice of God is revealed therein, from faith unto faith, as it is written: The just man liveth by faith. For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and injustice of those men that detain the truth of God in injustice: Because that which is known of God is manifest in them. For God hath manifested it unto them. For the invisible things of him, from the creation of the world, are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made; his eternal power also, and divinity: so that they are inexcusable. Because that, when they knew God, they have not glorified him as God, or given thanks; but became vain in their thoughts, and their foolish heart was darkened. For professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.* And they changed the glory of the incorruptible God into the likeness of the image of a corruptible man,* and of birds, and of fourfooted beasts, and of creeping things. Wherefore God gave them up to the desires of their heart, unto uncleanness, to dishonour their own bodies among themselves. Who changed the truth of God into a lie; and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.” (empahsis mine)


#7

Why believe the god of the Bible is God?

My faith tells me that there’s no better alternative.


#8

My question to you would be: would you even recognize the Ultimate Creator (or UC, for short) if you ran into Him/Her/It/Them? How would you know that the UC was actually (1) “ultimate” and (2) “creator”? There’s no way you, with your human mind, could ‘measure’ things such that you could scientifically say, “OK, this entity is indeed infinite and ultimate and all-powerful.”

One has to understand that terms like “all-powerful” and “infinite” are not scientific terms. They don’t apply to anything that can be measured empirically. They point to another reality. They point to the very Heart of Existence.


#9

Why believe that? Why suppose the creator of the universe would care to reveal itself to us?

[FONT=Arial]Again, truth is truth. If it comes by mediation of aliens, whom the ancients called angels, well, why not? Of course, I find the concept of spiritual beings not bound by time and space far more interesting (and orthodox). [/FONT]

[FONT=Arial][FONT=Arial]I’m not suggesting that the creator of the universe sent the aliens of course. I’m suggesting that one or more of the aliens ARE the god of the bible.

The Christian revelation is a message from the “other side”. That message gives meaning and purpose to our lives as Christians. But we only have access to that message through faith which established a relationship of trust between the believer and his Creator. It is only on the basis of this trust that we can come to understand the inner logic of that revelation.

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So are you saying you believe God is behind it because believing that gives meaning and purpose to your life? Is that an honest reason to believe it?

Michael


#10

Whoever inspired the Bible must have been above time. The Old Testament contained details about the future, aka Prophecy.

Who else, but the creator of time, is above time?


#11

[FONT=Arial]What more can He do than He has ? God is not going to ***force ***anyone to believe, as that would break them in bits - so we have to believe freely. We can hardly complain, both [/FONT]

[LIST]
*][FONT=Arial]that He won’t force us [/FONT][/LIST][FONT=Arial]& also[/FONT]
[LIST]
*]that He must respect our freedom[/LIST]

[FONT=Arial]The variety we witness seems to point to being or set of beings of limited power (if any consciousness is involved at all). Perhaps there are several factions of such beings, each supporting a different religion, or only one being or group of beings who isn’t concerned to establish one dominant belief system among humans.[/FONT]

In short: Perhaps the god of the Bible isn’t God at all. Even if there were people who observed the incredible events recorded in the Bible, or who have religious experiences they correctly attribute to a personality outside of their own mind today, why would it be warranted to suppose that the creator of the universe is responsible for these occurrences? Even if the god of the bible claims to be God, why should we believe it?

Do you *want *to believe it ?

There are plenty of secondary causes, but sooner or later one has to account for them: by postulating a First Cause which is universal, & so, accounts for all of them, in all respects. This First Cause we call God. Or has Occam’s Razor lost its cutting edge :slight_smile: ?

If there are many gods, which is what seems to be suggested - how come ? They too need to be accounted for: they look like anything but First Causes; because none of them is universal. And: how can there be creation (rather than making), if there is more than one First Cause ?

Even so, that tells us very little - only that this Cause exists. Knowledge of Jesus Christ through the gift of faith tells us Who that Cause is.

If we had nothing to rely on but ourselves, our lack of knowledge of God would be crippling - it isn’t, because God, & not we, takes the initiative: always. The very fact of wanting to believe in God, is evidence of His activity.


#12

Swiss guard wrote:

[FONT=Arial]These men gave their lives to proclaim the Gospel. Why would these men lay down their lives for a lie? It would be irriational to lay down your life for a lie. No evidence exists to suggest that the Apostles were irrational men.
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I didn’t claim they believed anything was a lie. Anyway, you’ll notice I am assuming for the sake of argument that Jesus DID rise from the dead, so I don’t see how this is relevant.

[FONT=Arial]Given what we know about the Apostles, it’s rational to believe everything they taught about Christ. Do you have the same evidence regarding aliens or magical beings? There is far more evidence about Christ than there is about aliens or magical beings.
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I don’t see why I need evidence about aliens or magical beings, but you don’t need evidence about the creator of the universe. The point is that the Apostles might have seen remarkable things and thought Jesus God or affiliated with God, but in fact Jesus might have been affiliated with aliens or magical beings (or might have been an alien or magical being). How could they have told the difference?

[FONT=Arial]Why should we believe the material world is all that exists? Why should we believe in extra-terrestrial beings? Why should we believe the entire material universe evolved from nothing?
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I’m not addressing the origin of the universe or whether only a material world exists. It might be reasonable to believe in extraterrestrial beings if Jesus rose from the dead, just to explain that event. I think we should be AT LEAST as open to that possibility as we are to the possibility that the creator of the universe was behind such an event! Don’t you? Anyway, I’m not just suggesting aliens from outer space, traveling in spaceships. I think we should also be open to beings from other dimensions (the sort you might find on Star Trek) or what we might call “magical” beings. Perhaps there are “little people”, elves or fairies, who are behind such apparent miracles. They might be benevolent, malevolent, or just mischievous. The point is that we would have no way of knowing what was responsible for a paranormal event, even if we allowed (as I do only for the sake of argument) that such an event had occurred.

[FONT=Arial]Those who choose not to believe what they know through faith to be true do so at their own peril.

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How can anyone choose not to believe what they KNOW to be true? I can’t believe grass is black with neon pink poke-a-dots no matter how hard I try! It seems to me that if you CAN doubt something that is important, you own it to your intellectual integrity to think critically about it.


#13

That is a very good point. We could NEVER have good reason to believe the UC was behind anything, so if we are honest we ought not to pretend that we have good reason. We ought to reserve judgment, for there is no reason to suppose we can get to the “Heart of Existence”. If the UC was really “all-powerful” and wanted us to believe it was behind some event, it could just make that something that we believe in, without our using reason or without our using it well.

Thanks for your very thoughtful response,
Michael


#14

Supposing that the Bible was in reality prophetic, that certainly wouldn’t entail that God was behind it. There are many other possibilities, for instance:

  1. That the powerful beings in question saw to it themselves that the prophecies were fulfilled

  2. That there is a God, and he created them in a realm above our time and space in the same way that an author can write a book about a fictional author who writes a book about characters fictional from his point of view. The fictional author is analogous to non-divine beings who are “above” our time.

  3. Such beings might just be very good at predicting the future, (perhaps because God has granted them that ability to use as they see fit).

I’m sure there are plenty of other possibilities as well.


#15

[FONT=Arial][size=3]He forces most of us to believe all sorts of things, such as that the past will resemble the future, that birds fly, and that we can suffer, and that doesn’t “break us to bits”. You would think he could do as good of a job impressing his own existence upon us, if it is so important to him (and to us). It is one thing, perhaps, to “force” us to love or serve him, and quite another to give us an accurate view of such important aspects of reality, only on the basis of which can we hope to make INFORMED, and therefore meaningful choices.

[FONT=Arial][size=3]Do you *want *[/size]

to believe it ?
[/FONT]Only if it is true; would you want to believe it if it wasn’t?

[FONT=Arial][size=3]There are plenty of secondary causes, but sooner or later one has to account for them: by postulating a First Cause which is universal, & so, accounts for all of them, in all respects. This First Cause we call God. Or has Occam’s Razor lost its cutting edge [/size]

?
If there are many gods, which is what seems to be suggested - how come ? They too need to be accounted for: they look like anything but First Causes; because none of them is universal. And: how can there be creation (rather than making), if there is more than one First Cause ?
[/FONT]I’m not supposing that the powerful beings in question created the universe. They are “gods” only in the sense that they are powerful beings who might pose as God. Suppose I accepted your cosmological argument (Though I don’t—but I don’t want to discuss the existence of God in this thread.), why believe that the (conscious, I suppose?) First Cause cared to reveal itself to us? Does the Christian God reveal itself to hamsters?

[FONT=Arial][size=3]Even so, that tells us very little - only that this Cause exists. Knowledge of Jesus Christ through the gift of faith tells us Who that Cause is.

[/size]

[/FONT]
How could you tell the difference between a gift of faith in the actual creator of the universe, and a “curse” of faith in a pseudo-God? Are we humans really so hard to deceive that it is unrealistic to suppose we might be fooled into thinking we were in contact with the creator of the universe when in fact we were not? Is it outside of the power of the creator of the universe to endow some of its creatures with the ability to so deceive others?

[FONT=Arial][size=3]…The very fact of wanting to believe in God, is evidence of His activity…

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On what basis do you believe that? Surely you wouldn’t endorse the general proposition that wanting to believe something exists is evidence of that thing’s activity?

Thank you for your time,
Michael
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#16

Why believe that? Why suppose the creator of the universe would care to reveal itself to us?

In Catholic Tradition, we believe that the existance of God can be proved by reason, but the content of his inner existence is outside of our ability to understand or to know using our own powers.

However, there are philosophical arguments that wouls lead me to believe that God would reveal himself to his creatures. For example, if you believe in the existence of objective truth and objetive morality (e.g. there is good and evil in the world) if you believe in a conscience, you have to ask the question what is the source of these elements in human existence? The Christian would say that God is the source. If God is the source of these virtues, and we see that evil is actually a privation of good, and therefore a defect, then we have to believe that God is all good. If this is the case, we now have a motivation that would lead God to reveal himself to his creation. His goodness, his love, and his mercy.

The question now becomes, why would a good and all perfect God create an imperfect universe, and human being that are free to choose between good and evil. (This is another topic, so I wont get into it)

I’m not suggesting that the creator of the universe sent the aliens of course. I’m suggesting that one or more of the aliens ARE the god of the bible.

First, that presuposes that you reject the philosophical proofs for the existence of God, and for the Christian understanding of God. Second, I would suggest that I consider it highly unlikely that a race of aliens, over thousands of years, would want to spend their time duping us miserable humans without human beings ever detecting their presence. That, and the fact that science has not detected the presence of alien activity anywhere in our galaxy yet.

So are you saying you believe God is behind it because believing that gives meaning and purpose to your life? Is that an honest reason to believe it?

Everyone comes to faith in different ways. The faith is not a scientific argument. The faith is an entrance into a relationship with a Living God whom I believe to be with me, right now, as I write these words. There was a time when I felt the force of all possible objections to the existence of God, but through some twist of fate, (or what Catholic theology would call the gift of faith) I started to believe, and I started to trust. Every believing Christian can give you their testimony as to why they believe. And I think for every Christian, it is deeply personal, because it is based on this personal relationship with God. This is an honest reason to believe.

Ut


#17

And who do you believe God to be?


#18

I think it is a serious mistake to suppose that God must exist if there is to be objective truth. If God didn’t exist, it would certainly be objectively true that he does not exist. But we can put the question of objective truth aside, for I am willing to grant for the sake of argument that God exists, and it may be an objective truth that God isn’t interested in revealing himself to us.

I don’t know what it would even mean for morality to be objective. Values, moral or otherwise, are the sort of things that are or are not held by conscious beings. There are practically an infinite number of possible standards against which we may judge such values. God, you or me may value one such standard over other, but again our valuing that standard for judging values is itself just a value. It doesn’t make any sense to suppose one could be just plane old “wrong” about a value, apart from any specific (valued) standard.

Even if there is an objective morality, whatever that means, it need not involve the principle that God should care about human beings, or that God should love any particular being. If God is responsible for your conscience, it might exist just to keep our species alive, for all you could ever know.

[FONT=Arial]First, that presuposes that you reject the philosophical proofs for the existence of God, and for the Christian understanding of God.

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I’m allowing for God’s existence and I know of no philosophical arguments for the existence of a specifically Christian God; only historical arguments involving the resurrection and other purported miracles. The purpose of the OP was to suggest an alternative explanation for such paranormal events, if they had in fact occurred.

[FONT=Arial]Second, I would suggest that I consider it highly unlikely that a race of aliens, over thousands of years, would want to spend their time duping us miserable humans without human beings ever detecting their presence. That, and the fact that science has not detected the presence of alien activity anywhere in our galaxy yet.

[/FONT]
As I indicated in another thread, it seems as least as likely as it is that the creator of the universe was involved. After all, we keep zoos and our children keep ant farms. Anyway they needn’t have been consistently involved; they need only have popped in from time to time to perform the reported “miracles”.
I’ve also indicated above that they needn’t be “space aliens”; they could be beings that have access to dimensions beyond our own, they could be magical beings akin to elves or fairies, or something else we can’t imagine. Science hasn’t found the creator of the universe either. Like God, these beings could be very good at hiding themselves.

Thanks,
Michael


#19

Who, me?

I’m an agnostic myself. I don’t know if God exists or not. If s/he does exist, I can only speculate about what s/he wants, or how powerful s/he is.

Michael


#20

Hi MichaelLewis,

Possibilities??? Probably not!

The Old Testament was written by various people (incl Kings) over hundreds, perhaps thousands of years.

I don’t think you have a grasp of the level of conspiracy needed to put together the Bible, if it wasn’t from God.

Could you imagine the conspiracy needed to put together a story about a man who was born from a virgin, under a bright star, in Bethlehem, who will be known as the Son of God, and be betrayed for 30 silver coins, and remain silent during a harsh accusation, and have his hands and feet pierced (even though crucifixion wasn’t invented back then), and be humiliated, and die amoung criminals, and forgiving His attackers, and have His clothes divided up and gambled for, and feel forsaken by His Father, and have none of His bones broken, and be stabbed/speared, and bear the punishment of many, and be buried with the rich, and then be saved by the power of death! Plus many many more.

All of the this was predicted! Centuries in advanced!

  1. That there is a God, and he created them in a realm above our time and space in the same way that an author can write a book about a fictional author who writes a book about characters fictional from his point of view. The fictional author is analogous to non-divine beings who are “above” our time.

Sorry, I don’t understand. :confused:

  1. Such beings might just be very good at predicting the future, (perhaps because God has granted them that ability to use as they see fit).

Oh… so you do believe there is a God?

I’m sure there are plenty of other possibilities as well.

Your possibility is probably zero.


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