Answering “Questions Christians Can’t Answer” #40 Temptation of Jesus?

R. E. 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.

40 – God allowed Jesus to be tempted as a human by Satan in the wilderness of the desert.  Again, if God and Jesus are the same entity, then what kind of sense does it make for God to allow himself to be tempted by Satan in the wilderness to see if he would give in to the temptation? In addition to that, if he were all-knowing, he would have already known the outcome and, therefore, could have avoided the whole thing all together. 

 

 

 

 

As pointed out in the answer to question 30, God and Jesus are of the same essence – in that they share the same knowledge, power, and goals – but they are two different people. The experiences that Christ had on earth with his human body were unique experiences, and if God the Father had access to them, it was only because Jesus had the experience.

Now undoubtedly Christ knew that he would not cave to temptation, but this does not mean that he was not tempted. Temptation is an experience peculiar to humans, and even if a human does not follow the temptation it is a painful struggle. In experiencing the struggle, Christ – and through him, God – has the ability to sympathize with human weakness. When Christ intercedes with a pure and holy God on behalf of weak humans, he does so having himself experienced weakness:

Hebrews 4:15

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.

Indeed, it would be deeply unfortunate for human beings if Jesus had not been tempted.

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