Evidence for the Christian Faith

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Evidence for the Christian Faith
Is there evidence for the Christian faith? You often refer to the irrationality of people of faith who believe based upon insufficient evidence. Referring to Christians, you state, “you feel that you are in a position to judge that Jesus is the Son of God, that the Golden Rule is the height of moral wisdom, and that the Bible is not itself brimming with lies. You are using your own moral intuitions to authenticate the wisdom of the Bible.”50 If our moral intuitions and feelings formed the sum total of our evidences in support of Christianity, I would agree that such a faith lacked rational coherence. This resembles the faith of Mormon missionaries who ask you to read from the Book of Mormon until you obtain a sense of warmth and peace that assures you of its truth. This “burning in the bosom” must provide the best evidence the Book of Mormon has going for it, since scientific and archaeological evidence certainly doesn’t support its claims. Allegedly, Joseph Smith found the text for the Book of Mormon inscribed on gold plates buried near a hill named Cumorah in upstate New York. Even though Palmyra, NY residents hold a Hill Cumorah Pageant every summer, no archaeological evidence has confirmed the location of such a hill. Nothing has ever been found that substantiates the description of the events at Cumorah described by Brigham Young in his Journal of Discourses.

    When Joseph got the plates, the angel instructed him to carry them back to the hill Cumorah, which he did. Oliver says that when Joseph and Oliver went there, the hill opened, and they walked into a cave, in which there was a large and spacious room. He says he did not think, at the time, whether they had the light of the sun or artificial light; but that it was just as light as day. They laid the plates on a table; it was a large table that stood in the room. Under this table there was a pile of plates as much as two feet high, and there were altogether in this room more plates than probably many wagon loads; they were piled up in the corners and along the walls.51
You assume that the Christian faith is a “blind leap” into a world filled with contradictions and unwarranted assertions. You seem to think that Christianity’s only redemptive quality lies in its ability to make us feel good about ourselves. This is patently false. The historicity of Christianity has both archaeological and historical support. Let us examine briefly just the recently discovered archaeological and historical evidence.

In November of 1990, archaeologists recovered the bones of Caiaphas,52 high priest from 18-37 AD, from an ossuary in Jerusalem. The front of the ossuary was beautifully adorned and an inscription on two sides bore the name Yusef bar Caifa in Hebrew. Soldiers took Jesus to Caiaphas the high priest upon his arrest. We find the account of this incident in Matthew 26.

The pool of Siloam, originally thought to have been discovered in the early 1900s, received new interest in late 2004. A sewer crew uncovered stone steps about 200 yards from the original pool that piqued the interest of archaeologists.53 The pool had historic significance as a public bath to allow washing before entrance into the Temple, but for years, people have wondered how the original small and narrow pool might have served this purpose. The newly found pool measures 225 ft. along one side, forming a rectangle with tiered steps leading into it. Biblically, the pool served as the site where Jesus’ healed a man blind since birth.54

I would also like to mention several other noteable archaeological discoveries. The beginnings of David’s Palace55 have been found in Jerusalem. (2 Chronicles 8:11) While digging in Gath, the home of the Philistine warrior Goliath, archaeologists have uncovered a shard of pottery inscribed with two Proto-Semitic renderings of the name “Goliath.”56 (1 Samuel 17:4) In Megiddo, in Northern Israel, while extending an Israeli prison, workers uncovered a beautiful mosaic floor bearing the inscription “built in honor of Jesus Christ the God.”57 Discoveries such as these provide support for the accuracy of the biblical texts as historical narratives and also attest to the existence of Jesus and the prevailing view of his divinity among early Christians.

Evidence for the Christian Faith – Higher Education
Most intellectual atheists do not struggle with Christianty over this sort of evidence. Nevertheless, it is important for the reader to note that such evidence does exist. You would classify this sort of evidence as “soft” science. Instead, the majority of atheists reject Christian claims that appeal to the supernatural as utterly implausible. When it comes to “hard” scientific evidence for these sorts of claims, Christianity has admittedly fallen short. However, that shouldn’t surprise us when individuals with a Christian worldview are routinely passed over for research professorships at major colleges and universities. Atheism has surreptitiously infiltrated our higher educational system. This past year, Dr. Francis Beckwith of Baylor University almost lost a tenure track position in Philosophy, specifically due to his Christian worldview. When major universities seek applicants for positions in the “hard” sciences, they don’t favor applicants who espouse a Christian worldview. Each department forms a search committee composed of members of that department, most of whom have never seriously considered Christian truth claims. This might explain why membership in the National Academy of Sciences is 93 percent atheist, as you point out.58 Christians are subconsciously dissuaded from hard science majors unless they attend a Christian Liberal Arts college. I went through just this sort of struggle twenty-five years ago at a major secular university. While working on my Masters Degree, I was fortunate to have an advisor who respected my opinions and supported my right to disagree with him. Had I been at another school, where my views were ridiculed, rather than respected, I may have left the sciences altogether. I might add that this man always worked on Christmas day, but took the day off for Darwin’s birthday. We represented two completely opposing viewpoints yet found it possible to work together in harmony.

Keep Reading!

Read Page 1 of Letter To A Christian Nation: A Response.


Footnotes:
50 Sam Harris, p. 49.
51 Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 19.
(http://journalofdiscourses.org/Vol_19/JD19-036.html).
52 See http://www.bib-arch.org/bswbOOossuary_Lemaire.pdf.
53 See http://www.bib-arch.org/siloam.pdf.
54 See John 9.
55 See http://www.leaderu.com/theology
/palacedavid.html and http://www.archaeologynews.org/link.
asp
?ID=73262&Title=Eilat%20Mazar:%20Uncovering
%20King%20David's%20Palace.
56 See http://www.imra.org.il/story.php3?id=27455.
57 See http://www.archaeology.org.il/newsticker.asp?id=24.
58 Sam Harris, p. 39.


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