Answering “Questions Christians Can’t Answer” #21 Doubting Thomas?

“Pertness and ignorance may ask a question in three lines, which it will cost learning and ingenuity thirty pages to answer. When this is done, the same question shall be triumphantly asked again the next year, as if nothing had ever been written upon the subject. ” 

-George Horne

This article continues a series examining R.E. Pucket’s article “Top 50 Questions Christians Can’t Answer“.

RE.Pucket was a faithful Christian for much of his life. However, as he began to expand his reading and investigate arguments against faith, he became convinced that faith was irrational. This impression was strengthened by the fact that Christians with which he interacted largely told him that he should believe for belief’s sake, and that faith trumped rationality.

Pucket now spends a significant amount of time interacting with born again Christians who he feels are trying to convert him and win his soul. He rebuffs these attempts by presenting arguments that seem to stymie these Christians who in turn make vague appeals to “God’s Plan” and blind faith.

In his article, “Top 50 Questions Christians Can’t Answer” on Yahoo voices, Pucket lists out some of the arguments he has found that Christians seem to have no rational, logical answers for, and invites the readers to inspect their faith in light of these questions. Says Pucket:

“Don’t get me wrong, they will have an answer for them. You will find, however, that their answers have no basis in verifiable fact or evidence whatsoever, and will be largely based in their blind faith forsaking all reason.”

This series of articles will examine all fifty of Pucket’s questions, five per article, and offer responses to these questions.

One of the important things that the Pucket list teaches is the danger of dogmatism. If a system of belief stands or falls on every minute doctrine or teaching within the system, then disarming one of these causes the whole thing to fall.Christianity has undergone inspection by hosts of intelligent and thoughtful people over its 2000-year history. Some, like Pucket, have come to the conclusion that it was untenable. Many more have explored different ways of thinking about and applying Christian ideas that do not involve abandoning the system. The very fact that Christianity is a system of thought that allows individual thinkers to explore it, rather than to blindly embrace it, at least suggests that it is not a system of intellectual tyranny.

This author suggests that many of things about Christians popularly believe may be found faulty without the entire system being destroyed. For Christianity to be untrue, it would have to be shown beyond a reasonable doubt that either humans do not require some sort of salvation from evil and suffering, or that no such salvation has been provided.

The answers provided to the questions in this series may not always be punchy rejoinders, magic bullets, or truth bombs. They may be far from convincing to a skeptic; however they do show that Christianity is at the very least internally consistent and existentially plausible.

A variety of the Christian views that Pucket attacks in these questions are held by a very specific sect of Christian believers, and by no means characterize the whole of Christian views. The questions also occasionally make broad statements which either mischaracterize Biblical teachings, or are backed up with no supporting evidence. Where these mistakes are made, the responses are largely aimed at correcting these mischaracterizations. This is not to say that the attack has no merit, but the attack would need to be re-worked to fit a proper representation of that belief.

Finally, it is worth noting that the questions are sometimes phrased in highly emotive or sarcastic forms. These articles will attempt to respond to the fundamental objection being raised, rather than the tone in which they are presented, however the questions themselves will be presented in their original form.

 

Doubting Thomas

Source

21 – A disciple of Christ, Thomas, was a skeptic. He walked with Jesus during his time on earth and physically witnessed with his own eyes certain miracles performed by him such as raising Lazarus from the dead and so forth.  However, after the crucifixion, Jesus supposedly rose three days later and Thomas did not believe it was truly him despite being told, prior to the incident by Jesus, that he would rise again in three days. Thomas required physical proof. Jesus allowed him to touch him and feel the wounds in his body to offer that proof to Thomas. Why doesn’t god extend the same proof to humans alive today? Those that doubt his existence are no different than Thomas, requiring physical proof and he was a disciple of Jesus himself. If Thomas had been born one generation later, or even living today, he would have burned in hell for all eternity because he would not believe for the lack of physical proof. Paul was born after the death and ascension of Christ. Throughout his life, he did not believe that Jesus was the son of God and even went out of his way to persecute and murder Christians thinking that their religion was a dangerous belief system to practice. Lo and behold a flash of light came out of the sky and Jesus Christ himself appeared to Paul explaining to him that he is actually the one true god. Jesus told him that he was persecuting the followers of the only true faith. From that point on, Paul was a converted Christian. Again, if God was willing to go out of his way to physically prove to Paul that he actually exists, why is this not done today? Why isn’t God willing to show those that doubt today the same degree of physical proof? Why should we be any different than Thomas and Paul? 

This appears to be a variation on question 18. In order to raise this question, one must assume these accounts were actually true. If true, then the accounts themselves are proof of God’s existence. If false, there is no reason to question them, since they do not accurately represent the way in which God acts.

Of course, if these accounts are true, then one must also assume that Judas, who ate at Jesus side, saw his miracles, and so forth didn’t believe or didn’t care that Jesus was Messiah. Jesus himself said to the people of Israel, “…if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.” (Matthew 11:21b). Clearly there are certain people for whom no amount of evidence will ever be sufficient.
To say that God does not reveal his presence to people in the modern day in deeply convicting and personal ways is to ignore a staggering number of testimonies throughout history.
Former atheist Francis Collins describes his conversion experience this way:
“I was hiking in the Cascade Mountains on a beautiful fall afternoon. I turned the corner and saw in front of me this frozen waterfall, a couple of hundred feet high. Actually, a waterfall that had three parts to it — also the symbolic three in one. At that moment, I felt my resistance leave me. And it was a great sense of relief. The next morning, in the dewy grass in the shadow of the Cascades, I fell on my knees and accepted this truth — that God is God, that Christ is his son and that I am giving my life to that belief.”
Former atheist Paul Jones was convicted of God’s existence (and goodness) through the beauty of art he says:
“I began to see in some of the pictures spiritual qualities that were more than just good art. God is amazing – he deals with you where you are. He met me at my level. I started talking to myself about spiritual things.”
Of course, personal experiences which convict of Jesus’ reality are convincing only to the person who experiences them. Another person may read that Thomas felt the wounds of a resurrected Jesus, and may not be convinced. The larger body of evidence as summarized in the answer to question 18 still remains for all to examine and accept or reject as they choose.

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