Monday, April 1, 2013

Billy Graham: Missing the obvious since 1918

Another paper, another ridiculous column by Billy Graham. Actually, Based on the content, I think that this was supposed to run yesterday, and not today. This isn't surprising coming from our local paper, but that's beside the point... On to silly Billy!

Billy Graham: Let the facts of Jesus' life and death erase your doubts

Q: I want to believe in Jesus, but I just can't bring myself to do it. Some of my Christian friends tell me that all I need to do is to have faith, but how can I have faith in something I'm not even sure is true? Is faith just a blind leap in the dark, like some people say? -- R.H.

A: If a "blind leap in the dark" means believing in Jesus without having any evidence to support your faith, then your faith may not last. I don't doubt your friends' sincerity, but God has given us solid reasons to believe in Jesus, and I hope you'll discover them for yourself.

Tomorrow, millions of Christians will celebrate the most startling event in human history -- the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. You probably know the background: His enemies had decided to destroy Him, and He was condemned to die in the cruelest way possible, by being nailed to a cross. Hours later, there could be no doubt He was dead; the Roman soldiers confirmed it, and His body was taken down and placed in a cave-like tomb, its entrance sealed by a large stone.

But on the third day, some women came to the tomb and discovered the stone had been rolled away and the tomb was empty! By the power of God, Jesus had been raised from the dead, and during the next 40 days He appeared repeatedly to His followers, including more than 500 at one time (see 1 Corinthians 15:1-8).

Why do I focus on Jesus' resurrection? Because it wasn't a myth or legend; it really happened! And once you understand this, your doubts will fade. And you will find yourself saying with Thomas, who once had been filled with doubt, "My Lord and my God!" (John 20:28).
First off, I'll answer the readers question. Yes, you pretty much have the right idea about faith. Religious faith certainly is belief without evidence or proof. In fact, if you talk to some believers, they will tell you that if there was definitive proof, there would be no need for faith. That belief through faith is superior in God's eye than belief through confirmed facts. Me, I like facts. But if I were to believe through faith alone, how would I choose which religion to guess was the right one to try and put faith in? Evidence and proof are the sure fir ways to help make that choice... But religion tends no to like that path because a reasoned approach leaves all deities excluded from consideration.

Ah, but Billy says that there ARE solid reasons to believe in Jesus. Whoa, whoa, whoa... Please stop the presses and tell me more! "Why do I focus on Jesus' resurrection? Because it wasn't a myth or legend; it really happened!" Seriously!? Surely, he mush be joking!   ...Nope, that really is all he offers. RH isn't sure if Jesus is real, and wants evidence, and your answer is simply, 'yup, it's all true'. I don't know if he realizes it or not, but he did not answer the question, nor offer proof for Jesus. He simply asserts it and leaves it at that. Sorry, but that won't cut the mustard.

All Graham offers as 'proof' is the resurrection story. Talk about an amazingly basic error! If Jesus is in question, that is not proof. The resurrection story comes from the Bible. The Bible is the origin of the entire story and claims of Jesus. If Jesus is in question, the Bible is too. You can not claim the Bible as proof for Jesus any more than you can claim that Amazing Fantasy #15 is proof that Peter Parker was bitten by a radioactive spider, and now fights crime in New York as the Amazing Spider-Man.

You simply can't offer the Bible up as proof for the Bible. That's like writing a report that says that time traveling aliens helped America win the revolutionary war, and then listing your own report in the works cited page of your report. If you did that, what kind of grade do you think you would get? You would rightly get a failing mark, yet Billy Graham is expecting you to grant the Bible/Jesus an exemption.

What is a Muslim offered the Qur'an as proof of Muhammad's midnight ride and that he was the true prophet of God/Allah? Somehow, Graham and your average Christian would reject that 'evidence', but still claim that the Bible proves Jesus. Are they blind, or disingenuous? Because both parties are making the exact same claim. It would be no different than if I cited the Norse beliefs as proof that Thor killed the Midgard Serpent, Jormungandr at Ragnarok. What if a Mormon cites the book of Mormon as proof that their beliefs are true. What is we were is claim that the Egyptian book of the dead proves the ongoing conflict between Horus and Set?

Christians would reject these claims, and rightly so. However, their claim that the Bible proves stories in the Bible falls square in the same category as the others. There is one thing that they are all missing, and that's external proof. There is no contemporaneous proof that Thor existed, slayed the serpent, or that Ragnarok even occurred. Likewise, the Bible is the only source we have for Jesus. Seeing as it is the text that first proposes Jesus, it can't be used as proof of Jesus. The Romans kept good records, yet there is no record of Jesus. He was said to be doing miracles, had followers, and rose from the dead, yet no one wrote about it. Are we to expect that someone doing such amazing things simply went unnoticed? Then there's the fact that the stories in the Bible were decided on by committee, weren't written by people who cold have known him first hand, and were written well after the time he was supposed to have lived. That leaves the Bible as not only the only source for Christ, but a horribly unreliable source at that!

But even if it had been written a the time, It couldn't be used as proof of Jesus in and of itself. The additional sources needed are still staggeringly lacking. Personally, I wouldn't be surprised if Jesus was based off of one of the many religious teachers of the day. But the lack of any history tells me that if there was someone he was based on, he was just a man like all the others preaching their own message. That's means no copy-cat of Mithra. No miraculous Winter Solstice birth, and no death only to be resurrected for the Spring Equinox.

So no Mr. Graham, you didn't offer proof. You only begged the question. You claim that the Bible proves Jesus, and I'll be forced to counter that the Doctor saved Earth from the Daleks in 'The Stolen Earth', thwarted the Weeping Angels in 'Blink', and defeated the Master in 'The End of Time'. You may have a book, but I have video 'evidence'! The Bible is no more proof of Jesus, than Doctor Who is proof that our favorite Time Lord is protecting all of space and time in his TARDIS.

So RH, please ignore Mr. Graham. He obviously doesn't know of what he speaks, or simply doesn't care to be genuine or consistent. Base what you believe on evidence, not faith. For that is the way that has shown results through the years. Plus it allows you to be open to new information, rather than sticking your fingers in an attempt to drown out everything else. RH, press on the path of reasoned belief, for it is the honest one and can open you up to all sorts of new discoveries. Do that and you will not be disappointed.


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