Jesus Appeared To Other People, Why Can't He Appear To Me?

God has appeared or unambiguously interacted with a wide range of types of persons in The Bible. But every time I mention that I think Jesus should just come down and visit with me, I get the old Christian rebuttals, such as

- "that would interfere with your free will"
- "God wants us to figure it out for ourselves"
- "suffering builds character"
- "God doesn't do what you want Him too, He does what He wants and He has his reasons that we can't understand"

and a few others I can't think of right now off the top of my head. Those statements basically reduce God to chance. It turns out that Gods interaction in our life has all the appearance of Chance. We may as well call God "Chance" then, or just say that Gods interaction in our life is what we call "Chance".

Why Did God Ever Appear To Anyone?
Overlooking the fact that those rebuttals ignore some relevant real world qualifiers making them eligible to be fallacies, if any of those rebuttals are true, then why did God ever appear to anyone? If they are true now, then they should have been true back then, unless something changed. What changed, and what bearing does it have over whether God appears to people.

Look at Paul.
He seemed to be a pretty nasty character but Jesus popped up in front of him one day and gave him a message. Did he talk to Paul or just put it in his head? Why would God need to talk? He could manipulate the neurons in Pauls head so He could ensure maximum integrity of the receipt and understanding of the information. The details are sketchy because the instances where Pauls Conversion is described don't match up, but in one version, the men that were with him heard the voice but didn't understand. Whats up with that? And then Ananias heard God too. What is the point of only appearing to a few? And what is the point of only partially appearing to some while appearing to one? To have one of them go out and convince the rest of us? Why should I believe them over anyone else? I can understand why the sender would use that strategy if the sender of the message had limited resources, but supposedly God commands everything, including resources.

It would be easy to believe if I could hear the voice of God.
Then I could make a rational decision to accept it or not. But as it stands right now, I don't have any reason to think the Bible is anything more than Folklore from an Ancient Near Eastern Culture. All previous precedents of other Gods interacting with people have become considered "Mythology". Why shouldn't this instance be considered Mythology?

Verifiable Evidence is like mothers milk to a belief.
In the Bible, God has set a precedent of appearing to people in person, and it has the effect of unambiguously fostering and nurturing their belief.

It doesn't take much to change my behavior, just ask my wife or boss. I'm a pretty reasonable guy.
Just like its true that if I want to foster a belief or change the behavior of another person I should logically "do what it takes", God should logically "do what it takes" to change my behavior. Come on God, I love my kids and parents so I call them periodically. Why don't you call me?

26 comments:

Darrin said...

/roleplay "Greg Bahnsen"

If you were yourself an omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent Being, and witnessed someone who denied You despite your evidence in creation, in nature, and with the completed text (Text?) regarding the legacy of the Son-bearing race and of the Son himself from the first moment to the last (not just in the middle, as Paul had), would You want to reveal Yourself to such a skeptic especially considering that all of Your Bible has been complete and bolstered by philosophy for two thousand years?

I submit that such empirically verifiable witness would not only be superfluous, but even against rational demand itself, given His completed revelation through the Scripture and evidence inherent in nature (Romans 1). Think in this God's shoes. What would YOU do as God?

/END roleplay "Greg Bahnsen"

I heard this during Bahnsen's smearing of Tabash way back when (Bahnsen absolutely routed Stein but lost to Smith, haven't heard anything else related to this response that's as well-worded though) and Tabash gave one of his few good, prepared answers for this. What is your own? And don't peek at Tabash!

Of course I'm a skeptic of EVERYONE, so no offense here bud, just playing the Devil's Advocate (excuse the irony ... ;) )

Darrin said...

in the middle of the incomplete revelation to Humanity* as Paul had

sorry, that needs clarity

Steven Carr said...

'God has appeared or unambiguously interacted with a wide range of types of persons in The Bible.'

God used to have personal relationships with people. He would talk to them or perform miracles on demand.

Nowadays this god doesn't seem to want to appear to people or unambiguosly interact with them.

Has he given up on personal relationships?

Lvka said...

Your question made me sad, leetle guy... :-(

Lee Randolph said...

Hey Darrin,
Great comment.
I'm working on an answer and I'm going to make an article out of it. It touches on a lot of things that I've been thinking about lately.

but here's my notes generated off the top of my head, and How I handle complicated comments in general....

* Restate the claim as a question.
* decompose, Unpack
* define, look for upper and lower boundaries
* cross check
* compare
* look for dependencies,
* What is its value compared to other things?

If you were yourself an omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent Being,
> I would do things according to my values and principles which are...
* scrap it all and start over otherwise, knowing full well that I made the parameters, that unless I want to start over I have to work within the parameters and get down to a level that the human can comprehend
* to nurture
* to follow sound principles of communication, because humans demonstrate every day that their bahavior can be changed in a variety of ways by a variety of stimulus, none of them having the potential force of a God.

- and witnessed someone who denied You
> This happens to me all the time. I have to tell people things they don't want to hear all the time. I would do what I always do and I would assess how much it mattered to me and what I could do to improve my credibility on the issue.

- despite your evidence in creation, in nature,
> this is an open question and a slipper slope. It looks like because of physical properties, that nature can take care of itself. Emergent properties are an example of that. As to how it got that way, to posit a creator logically presumes the creator was created. Thats fine with me, if you want to have an infinite regression of Gods but that means that since it was not included in the text that it is an example of poor quality of the data dimension of _________________

- and with the completed text (Text?)
> and what is the source of this text? that is an example of poor quality in the data dimension of _______________________

- regarding the legacy of the Son-bearing race
> this is an open question because this has a poor rating in the dimension of Believability because of the dependence it has on the dimensions of free-of-error, reputation-of-source, ______________, complete information, cosistent representation, interpretability (son-of-man),


- and of the Son himself from the first moment to the last (not just in the middle, as Paul had),
> This is an open question because of the poor quality of the text.

- would You want to reveal Yourself to such a skeptic
> answered above, if it matters, yes, humans aren't that hard to convince. Look at "vintage clothes", Fashion trends, iPods, Humans are too gullible in general and full of cognitive bias

-especially considering that all of Your Bible has been complete
> Unwarranted because If jesus really was god, it is not clearly stated in the text.

-and bolstered by philosophy for two thousand years?
> Philosophy of questionable value, that is not reflected by real world states, cannot be cross-checked with anything

- I submit that
> Why should I care? Are you an authority? Are you and Expert? Is there a consensus of experts on this?

- such empirically verifiable witness would not only be superfluous,
> how does that follow logically?

- but even against rational demand itself,
> how does that follow logically?

- given His completed revelation through the Scripture
> This is open question, and circular

- and evidence inherent in nature (Romans 1).
> this is an open question and a slippery slope.

- Think in this God's shoes.

- What would YOU do as God?

thats all I have time for now.

John W. Loftus said...

Doesn't the devil have his own advocates? ;-)

goprairie said...

1) if you were god, would you reveal yourself? to me this is a big duh. what would the harm be? for god to make him/herself obvious to us would sure stop a lot of arguing and fighting and killing. if i were god as i usually hear god defined, i would want to make myself known and stop that kind of crap. like if my kids came home and didn't know if i was here and were about to do something wrong, i would cough to make myself known and prevent their bad behavior.
2) god used to have personal relationships with people. sure, but now we call those personal relationships forms of mental illness. that he 'appears' so differently to people is reason to beleive it is a product of the person's own mind. i know a man who today beleives he is a 'prophet' but oddly, the stuff god says thru him is the widely accepted views of a white male 60-something conservative. if god were really appearing to my friend, would there not be some thing that he would disagree with my friend about and that my friend would find challenging and shocking? yet oddly, each prophesy he 'hears' is spot on with what he knows and beleives. dead giveaway to me that it is his own brain playing tricks on him, that he is then trying to pass off on us as the word of god. i am pretty sure if god revealed him/herself to me, there would be some surprises!

Russ said...

Although Christians make the claim that their version of a god will not reveal itself to you because

"that would interfere with your free will,"

notice that Christian parents, acting on behalf of their god, almost always choose to interfere with the freewill of their children when they inculcate into those highly impressionable young minds a belief in their version of god.

Clearly, Christian parents believe that their god intentionally chooses not to reveal itself to you and that you should choose to believe in their god as an exercise of your freewill. But for their own children, inculcated from the cradle on, freewill should play no part in their arriving at the same god-belief. The children of Christian parents are observably coerced to believe in their parent's version of a god.

Your heart, your mind and your soul are expected to arrive at belief in god via freewill, but their own child, freewill be damned, should be shackled to it from birth.

busterggi said...

But god does continue to appear to people!

That's how we got Muslims, Mormons & Moonies.

Harry McCall said...

Great points Lee!

The funny thing is that Christians will fight as hard logically for the existence of Satan as for the existence God himself (It seems like one needs the other as much as the illogical feeds more of the illogical to exist).

So, in reality, Christians are selling Satan as hard as they are selling God to prove his existence!

I see this concept of God as a toy monkey on a stick. Hell, the monkey is real and it even dances and moves around as the believer moves the logic stick, but the poor toy monkey lacks the ability to prove itself logically autonomous.

PersonalFailure said...

Honestly, god made all of us, god knows all of us, therefore he knows i won't believe without verifiable proof, but he won't give me the proof, and then i burn for all eternity.

why do christian apologetics always come down to "god's a sadist"?

Russ said...

goprairie,

Great comment.

Question for you: If you were a god, how would you treat the children you created?

For me, like you, goprairie, I would make sure that, at least occasionally, they knew I was there. That's one mark of a loving father. I most certainly would not single out one of them to be nonsensically chatted up out of an incendiary shrubbery, and then, in a monumental display of omniscient stupidity actually expect that everyone concerned and impacted would get the message. Fact is, I would counsel my children that they would do well to simply ignore any and all claims made by each and every forthright forsythia, sincere salvia, ardent arborvitae, and profoundly philosophical philadelphus. Plants are notorious liers.

If I wrote them a book, say three thousand years ago, I would have told them useful things, remembering that, I am, after all, modeling a loving father. Let's say, that although I am omniscient, omnipotent, and whatever other omni's I want to be, I decided not to disclose too much all at once. While I could have kept nuclear bombs and microelectronics in reserve - they would have been really difficult to implement given the technology of the time - I still could have given them much useful information.

Remembering that I actually do love my children, that is, I love every single one of them, in my book I would not pit them against one another by calling some of them my "chosen people." I would not claim to love my sons and daughters while continually demonstrating that I see my daughters as second rate chattel. I would show them a constancy in love that would allow them go to sleep each night assured that their loving father would never intentionally harm any one of them. If I did indeed have the power to destroy my children, being a loving father, I would make sure they were never aware of that awful terrifying thought.

My book for my children would contain lots of good tips: wash your hands; pork is healthy food, just cook it well; slavery is out, period(don't want to interfere with someone's freewill, now, do we?); health problems are caused by germs or a person's own failing body - not demons or witches - so the proper response to someone's illness is empathy, caring, and compassion, not burning them, torturing them, or chaining them to a wall; here's a simple recipe for soap, and here's how you use it; the earth is not the center of the universe and it is much closer to correct to say that the Earth goes around the Sun; here's how to make a printing press; you are related to every living thing on the planet; enjoy sex; avoid violent conflict as far as possible; don't kill those who disagree with you; and, the world is more comprehensible when you approach it systematically through science.

In the introduction I would point out that this material is the best stuff I had available to me, and that as they learn better ways to do things they should update the book with that new data. Being a loving father know-it-all, I would permit updates that were a closer reflection of reality than were the book's current contents and I would disallow those ideas that went too far afield.

I'm guessing I could get all I want to say to them into a 100 page trade paperback in 12 point type, including indexes and appendices (Hey, it's some handy tips from a loving father, not Encyclopedia Britannica). Then, being omnipotent and all, I would drop one copy into the lap of every person on the planet each of whom would be able to read it in their native tongue regardless of age, literate or not(all that omni has to be put to work somehow). Periodic updates would be similarly dispersed.

So, goprairie, if you were a god, how would you treat the children you created?

scott said...

What I don't understand is that, if God does exist, then he clearly realizes the amount of information he reveals about his existence has significant influence on the number of people who will believe he exists. Otherwise, why else inspire human beings to write the Bible?

So, if God was willing to present the information found in Bible to increase the number of those who will believe, we reach the question that Lee poses. Why stop there? He's already "tainted the water" so to speak. Why can't he reveal himself?

For the sake of argument, let's assume God exists. Being omniscient, God would know exactly how much evidence would be required for each and every person to actually believe he exists. The same can be said for the death and resurrection of Jesus.

Being omnipotent, God must decide that, of all the possible information he could reveal to us regarding the existence of himself and his son, he must intentionally decided exactly what subset of this information he will allow to be known, how much information to allow to be found, and how much information he will directly present to everyone.

(To clarify, God must decide what information about his existence he will hide from us [regardless of how much we seek], what we could find if we were looking in the right place and what he will present directly individuals.)

For example, Christians currently base part of their belief that Jesus died for our sins on the Bible. This would be knowledge of God's existence that he allows people to find. God's so called inner witness of the Holy Spirt would be information that he supposedly presents directly to individuals. And if God decides any actions he takes regarding answering prayer should never appear to be more than background noise in any scientific study, then he is intentionally hiding his agency behind statistical chance.

But, unlike us, God would have the "big picture" laid right out in front of him. He'd know the exact ramifications of his choices. He'd know that revealing information x would cause an additional y number of people to believe. Hiding x it would subtract the same amount, etc.

Therefore, in choosing exactly what particular subsets of knowledge to reveal and make available, God clearly decides who will and who will not believe that he exists. Who will and who will not believe that Jesus died for their sins. And, ultimately, who will be saved.

goprairie said...

russ - not sure what you are asking, but i will toss a couple things out -
i have never tried to write a book for them with all my knowledge, cuz i am here for them. i don't hide in a closet but let it be known that if they have a question or issue or idea, we can talk and we have for their whole lives talked about what is current with them and what they need to know now. i make myself known and available.
if i had written them a book 3K years ago and i had put errors in it, like to hate gay people, i would certainly write them a note now saying hey, i was wrong on that one or hey, i changed my mind or hey, you are misinterpretting that one.
that god does such a poor job of this brings his/her existance into question. anything that tries to make excuses for god not being present to us is making more problems. it is more likely there is not god and when i look, i find alternate answers that make mroe sense for every single thing ever attributed to god.

Steve Locks said...

I have an ex-nun friend who says she left Christianity because after her years as a nun she finally admitted that a relationship in which one of the partners is silent is no relationship at all.

Robert_B said...

If God were to show up to work a few sets on Friday night on the Comedy Channel, it would violate the principle of final causation. An Omnipotent being by definition does not utilize means to achieve an end. Whatsoever it wishes to obtain simply does No muss-no fuss. The entirety of the Christian Jesus story is a means to an end, the salvation of mankind. If an Omnipotent Deity existed and wished to save mankind via conferring immortality and remaking the basal metaphysical essence of humanity, it would simply wish it, and "poof"; it would be so. The allegations of Christianity are strong evidence that such a Deity does not exist or if it does exist (in contradiction of the Law of Identity) that it is not interested in our world.

Logismous Kathairountes said...

He will come down and visit with you, except you live your life as though you don't want Him to.

MH said...

Sorry Logismous, that just wont wash. Jesus ate with the evil people of society. They were living their life as if they didnt want him there. Thats the people he came down to save.

Then Thomas doubted, and got a personal visit post crucifix. He would have went to hell otherwise.

This is an existence proof that god _will_ visit those that doubt. He wants me, he can come visit, himself, just like Thomas.

Hell, he came down and personally converted 100s of people himself.

Add in the 100s of other times he did the same thing for others, and its just one of many arguments, any of which kill christianity.

Jeff said...

MH, I think the more apt example would be Paul. He was out there persecuting people who believed in Jesus. He was definitely living his life as though he didn't want God there. I agree with what you say, though - that argument just doesn't work. The Bible is full of examples that refute it.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Jeff and MH,
I think its such a bad argument that It emphasizes the fact that if there were a God, there shouldn't be any Atheists that are considered sane.

In other words, the evidence of God would be as plain as the evidence for fire or Japan.

I think the fact that there are atheists at all disproves god.

Steve Locks said...

According to Matthew 7:7 and Luke 11:9 Jesus also made the falsifiable statement "Seek and ye shall find."

Given that many seekers have come to the conclusion that Christianity is false then "Seek and ye shall find" cannot be a divine insight.

Watch Christians tie themselves in knots over this at Seek and ye shall find?

DrMark said...

Isn't it something how our car keys are always in the last place we looked. Of course they are. Why would we keep looking after we found them?

DrMark said...

Steve,

What were you looking for? How long did you look? Where did you look? When did you stop looking? Why did you stop looking? I once heard a comedian make fun of all of us when we say, "Aren't your keys always in the loast place you look? Well, of course they are, because you stop looking after that." Funny stuff

Lee Randolph said...

Hi DrMark,
I responded to your attempt to blame the vicitim in the search for Jesus in this article "Seek And Ye Shall Find: The Atheist Doesn't Do It Right"

Steve Locks said...

DrMark,

See here and here.

The existence of keys is easy to apprehend and isn’t an issue no matter how many times a person may find or loose their own. However a person’s belief that they have a close connection to Zeus, Allah, Jesus or Krishna is contingent on that person not subsequently becoming convinced that they have fallen for a cultural illusion, or become a victim of the Stockholm Syndrome. Keys are not so vulnerable.

JKnight said...

We tend to think of God as having a mind like our own. Does it make sense to think of God as wanting anything? A God would have no emotions, no fears, no desires, no curiosity, no hunger. Those are human shortcomings, not something that would be found in an omnipotent God. What then would motivate God? Nothing would motivate God. What possible reason would he have to ACT let alone appear to us talking apes? The mere fact that God would ACT would mean that his original plan needed some tweaking. Simply put there is no God. We created "God" because our primitive brains are wired that way from birth:

http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20126941.700-born-believers-how-your-brain-creates-god.html

One more question to ponder:
"Can God create things so indivisible that he could not divide them?"