Is the Christian God real?
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Debate Rounds (4)
1. No ad hominem attacks.
2. My opponent should start their argument in round 1.
3. Cite a fact if it is a statistic or something of that sort, it'a not necessary to cite an argument, though.
Firstly, I will argue that a personal, intelligent, powerful creator exists. Then I will argue that this creator is the Christian God.
The widely accepted big bang model of the universe suggests that the universe had a beginning, and a very sudden one. If you think about it, the big bang is an amazing and unexpected phenomenon, and science is unsure of what caused it. An eternal steady state universe, where things are always about the same might not be as difficult to explain. But the sudden violent expansion of the universe seems to evoke something powerful that caused it. An omnipotent God would explain this very well. In addition, if the universe had a beginning, it seems that whatever caused it must be eternal, or exist outside time, otherwise it would also need a cause.
Science has recently discovered that the parameters or values of several different forces and constants in nature appear to be "fine-tuned" to permit life. If they had been different by only a tiny fraction, life as we know it would probably not have been possible. Although technically possible, chance is unlikely by definition to be the explanation for this fine tuning, unless you invoke the multiverse theory. But if you think the multiverse is a reasonable explanation (for which there is no direct evidence that I am aware of), why not consider God a reasonable explanation? An intelligent creator would explain why the universe would be tuned to permit intelligent creation.
So far, we have seen that the cause of the universe could reasonably be expected to be timeless and powerful (big bang) and intelligent (fine tuning). But is this the God of the Christianity?
Christianity is extraordinary among religions for its large amount of personal witness to miracles. This is not to say that other religions don't claim miracles, but Christianity seems to outnumber them by far. I realize that claiming a miracle doesn't necessarily mean it really happened. But if all religions are equally wrong, or if a non-Christian religion is correct, why would Christianity stand out as being the richest in miracle claims? In addition, while NDEs (near death experiences) are reported by people of different religions, they also seem to be experienced overwhelmingly by Christians more than any other religion.
The resurrection would be evidence that Jesus is God. You'd probably argue that the authorship of the four Gospels is often considered anonymous by modern historians, and dated several decades after the reported events. But consider that belief in the resurrection existed at least as early as 50AD, as evidenced by the writings of Paul, which are largely considered authentic. He speaks of many eyewitnesses of the risen Christ in his letter to the church he founded in Corinth. Paul is reported to have suffered considerably for what he believed - why would he endure this if he wasn't sincere? Even if you don't trust Paul's word about the eyewitnesses, the belief in the resurrection almost certainly existed at that time, and probably well before. For many people to believe in the resurrection, it would suggest some kind of deception. Did some of Jesus' followers steal his body away? But then why would many of the disciples later give their lives over a ruse? The Jews and Romans didn't have a motive. And if the resurrection account was fabricated for deception, why have the women be the first witnesses, as they were considered at the time to be less credible than men? So the idea that the resurrection really happened is a reasonable view.
I argue that all these points taken together justify the position that it is reasonable and even likely that the Christian God is real. After that, faith can elevate this reasonable belief to complete certainty.
In the book of genesis, it describes the story of Noah's flood (and is confirmed in the New Testament in Luke 3:23-38 when Jesus is traced back to Noah). In this story, God drowns everyone accept Noah's family. The first question I want to ask is, is that a loving thing to do? Secondly, there is the issue of gathering the animals on the ark. This could be possible if all of the animals were all around, but find fossils of animals in places where they can live now, where it is most habitable to the species. We're not going to find penguins in a jungle.
There is also the issue of so many different types of animals. It's illogical to say that all human beings descended from Noah, because you see so many different types of people on earth, so many races. Its also illogical to say all dogs came from two dogs on Noah's ark, it's impossible within the amount of time they had to evolve. To know how much time here was after the flood, see how Luke 3:23-38 traced Jesus back to Adam and Eve. When doing that, it shows Noah. There were 64 (according to my counting, I might have messed up.) generations between Noah and Jesus. If each of those people spent one hundred years before having a kid, it would allow around 8400 years from Noah until now.
Then there is the issue of taking care of the animals, the one family would need to feed the animals on the ship, they would need to clean up the animal feces. And the more animals you assume is on the ship to get rid of the problem of the impossibility of the animals evolving so soon, the more feces Noah and his family would have to clean up in the story. I don't think one family would be able to take care of all of the animals. Then there issue of parasites and bacteria existing in the world, some of which exist by latching onto people. How would these survive without taking over the animals? And if Noah and his family were around these parasites and bacteria 24/7, how did they not get sick to the point where they would die?
Then there is the issue of how did Noah and his family build the ark (the problem becomes significantly worse if you take Noah's family out of the picture). Did they take shipbuilding lessons? Why did the Egyptians need tons of workers, or slaves, to build the pyramids, but Noah just needed him and his family to build an ark that carried everything from dogs to horses to elephants. Does that not seem fairly unrealistic?
You first ask why a loving God would kill everyone except Noah's family. Clearly love is not the only part of God's character. He wants us to love him back and follow certain rules, and he punishes those who fail in this regard. This is often called God's justice. I don't know if everyone who was killed in the flood was guilty - presumably children/babies were not spared. But assuming all the adults were guilty, it might be cruel to spare only the children, most of whom would eventually die without the adults. But the flood death may have been fairly quick, followed by immediate reward in heaven. So death itself isn't problematic, though the seemingly pointless suffering of children is difficult to understand. If you ask how it is moral for God to do or allow such things, one answer is that God's actions are moral by definition. God created everything, so he is the standard. Our own sense of morality is not the standard. That means we aren't in a position to judge God.
You bring up many problems such as the difficulty of a small family building a huge ark, gathering all the animals, taking care of them, etc. I understand your objections. Humanly speaking, even if these feats were possible, the chances of Noah's family actually succeeding would be very slim, and there were all kinds of things that could have gone wrong. But God could have been helping them.
Regardless, the existence of the Christian God doesn't hinge on the feasibility of a literal interpretation of a single bible story. Many Christians consider certain accounts in the bible to be at least partly allegorical. In fact, I would argue that the flood story is largely allegorical. This is because I can probably bring even better objections than you did.
For example, biblical scholars taking a literal approach find the date of the flood to be around 2300 BC. This doesn't leave enough time for the development of remarkable civilizations like Egypt (which built the pyramids) and China (which is over 3000 miles away from the ark's estimated landing place). In fact, their civilizations seem to predate the flood an not be affected by it. After the flood, 8 people would have been starting civilization from scratch with no infrastructure. Population growth for hunter-gatherers is almost non-existent (it's more of an equilibrium) and even early agricultural societies grow very slowly. It would take millennia for Egypt and China to reach the heights of their early civilizations. Also, hunting wouldn't really be an option for Noah's family. Killing a single animal would cause that species to become extinct. They did have seven pairs of each "clean" animal, but they would still be consuming them far faster than they could reproduce.
In fields like biology and population dynamics, there's the concept of minimum viable population (MVP). It's difficult to calculate accurately, since there are so many variables. But 8 is likely way below the MVP for humans in almost any situation. For space colonization, the MVP for a sustainable colony has been estimated to be between 80 and 160, and that's with advanced technology. For animals in the wild, MVP estimates vary, but all the estimates I could find were many times greater than 8. And humans probably have a higher than average MVP, since we reproduce slowly and are a fairly delicate/vulnerable species unless protected by our technology.
Keep in mind, I accept the big bang and evolution, and do not believe the bible is 100% literally accurate. If the bible has factual or historical errors, this could be from the human authors. The divine aspect of the bible could be limited to the spiritual doctrine which the human writers were inspired to include in their writings. So pointing out factual errors probably isn't relevant to me, unless you're also trying to explaining why the Christian God would/should not allow such errors. But doctrinal content is relevant, like original sin, the Resurrection, salvation by grace, etc.
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