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Faith

Defending the Faith: Apostles became fearless preachers

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  • IndependentLiberal Salt Lake City, UT
    Nov. 17, 2011 9:14 a.m.

    A fairly historical and well written article, but shame on you for not listing the, obviously possible (oxymoron) answer. Just a matter of piquing interest?

  • John E Provo, UT
    Nov. 17, 2011 9:59 a.m.

    Great article! I think everything Daniel Peterson writes is truly worth reading. He has a great mind, is a scholar and has a strong testimony of the Gospel, besides that he speaks and writes so interestingly! I am a fan!

  • Abeille West Haven, Utah
    Nov. 17, 2011 10:03 a.m.

    He is right. There is a very obvious, possible answer for the change of heart of the Apostles after the resurrection of our Savior and before his ascension 40 days later. Their state of mind, their faith, would not have only been strengthened, but would have been made 'sure.'

    Hope I didn't give it away!

  • skeptic Phoenix, AZ
    Nov. 17, 2011 10:52 a.m.

    Pehaps, the obvious, possible answer is that it just did not happen.

  • scootd28* SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    Nov. 17, 2011 10:57 a.m.

    Having recently had the opportunity to read many of the writings in the Hugh Nibley collection, I anticipate that Dr. Petersen's answer to the question will indeed be provided in an upcoming article, and that it will speculate that Christ taught the apostles of Temple Ordinances, Eternal Families, the Plan of Salvation - the gospel which was restored through Joseph Smith and other latter-day prophets but which did not originate with them. There is much documented evidence in newly discovered (during this century)pseudepigraphical(had to look that one up) writings of Temple ordinances among the early Christian Church. I look forward to Dr. Petersen's discussion, which will by necessity be far too brief, of this topic.

  • BobP Port Alice, B.C.
    Nov. 17, 2011 11:05 a.m.

    Ah, the sceptics of the world are always with us. Just unhappy little people whose mommies made them go to church.

  • Abeille West Haven, Utah
    Nov. 17, 2011 11:38 a.m.

    Funny. Skeptic actually helps prove the point. His take is it really didn't happen. The Apostles had been taught by the Master for a period of three years during his mortal ministry. They had been taught the Plan of Salvation, yet they had to believe everything taught by the Master on faith alone (something Skeptic has lost), with periodic 'evidence' based on Christ's miracles. Much earlier, as children, they had been taught that, when the Messiah came, he would set things in order and would never die. It must have been a great trial of their faith when the Master told them that he would, indeed, die. They had seen him heal all that came to him. They had seen him raise the dead twice. They had seen him provide meals for thousands with just a couple of loaves of bread (and some small fishes). Now, the Master would die. Who wouldn't think that the miracles would die with him? Knowing that the Savior would die, is it any wonder that Peter lost faith? Is it any wonder that the rest of the Apostles scattered, unsure of their own survival?

  • Abeille West Haven, Utah
    Nov. 17, 2011 11:48 a.m.

    And then it happened! On the third day after the Crucifixion, Christ was resurrected! And not him only, but many of the righteous who had awaited the resurrection of the Messiah, as it was only after the resurrection of Jesus that the others could take back their bodies. This wasn't some random stories to the Apostles - they actually saw it occur! They met with him, talked with him, communed with him. How could they deny? Their faith in this thing was no longer faith, but was sure knowledge! After this experience, which of the Apostles would ever fear death? All now knew that there is, indeed, life after death. They now knew the teachings of the Plan of Salvation were all true as well! They joyfully taught others these truths - others who had not seen what they had seen. Others that would have to believe with faith the things the Apostles knew with certainty.

    Before the crucifixion, the Apostles believed based on faith. After the resurrection, they had faith no more, but a sure knowledge of the things they were teaching. Death meant nothing to them. The good news (gospel) meant everything.

    My apologies to Dr. Peterson.

  • jimhale Eugene, OR
    Nov. 17, 2011 11:52 a.m.

    The rather obvious answer as to what made them courageous afterwards is that Jesus really did appear to them over that 40-day, post-Easter period ....including His appearance to over 500 brethren at once in Galilee.
    When the Holy Ghost fell upon them as promised, they were not filled with doubt about its reality. They were no longer, as they were at Passover, confused between what their society had always taught them about the coming of the Messiah and the actual events of Christ's arrest and death.

  • American man WOODS CROSS, UT
    Nov. 17, 2011 12:10 p.m.

    skeptic,10:52 am, 11-17-11.

    Do you have any evidencs that it did not happen?

  • Sandy Salt Lake City, UT
    Nov. 17, 2011 12:51 p.m.

    There is a part two to this, right?

  • Brahmabull sandy, ut
    Nov. 17, 2011 12:54 p.m.

    BobP - many people believe it did not happen. That doesn't make them little or unhappy as you claim. Just because you want to bad to make everybody believe or label them foolish does not mean that it is true. It may have happened, it may not have happened. Either way both sides have a right to comment and state their opinion. If you are the example of how believers treat non-believers when they don't believe then I am certain that I don't want to be a part of the believeing camp.

  • Jiggle Clearfield, UT
    Nov. 17, 2011 1:13 p.m.

    @AmericanMan

    Although I'm not skeptic I'm skeptical about the actual existence of Jesus as a divine or real person. Here's why:

    No one has the slightest physical evidence to support a historical Jesus; no artifacts, dwelling, works of carpentry, or self-written manuscripts. All documents about Jesus came well after the life of the alleged Jesus from either: unknown authors, people who had never met an earthly Jesus, or from fraudulent, mythical or allegorical writings. All sources about Jesus derive from hearsay accounts. The Gospels did not come into the Bible as original and authoritative from the authors themselves, but rather from the influence of early church fathers. Non-Christian sources come from authors who lived after the alleged life of Jesus. What appears most revealing of all, comes not from what people later wrote about Jesus but what people did not write about him. Consider that not a single historian, philosopher, scribe or follower who lived before or during the alleged time of Jesus ever mentions him! Regardless of the position held by a scholar or believer, if they cannot support a hypothesis with good evidence then it can only remain_a_hypothesis. I have more I can present! Your evidence????

  • sharrona layton, UT
    Nov. 17, 2011 1:22 p.m.

    Re: The evidences for the resurrection.
    The legal system provides some useful insights. For an example is there sufficient evidence for us to believe such claims within the N.T. are true? American jurisprudence provides two helpful standards of evidence that are used in most legal disputes. 1. Mere preponderance. 2. Reasonable doubt. John Warwick Montgomery argues that the evidence we possess for the resurrection of Christ actually exceeds the legal standard of reasonable doubt.
    The evidential case for the resurrection of Christ is so formidable that one who rejects the resurrection is to do so on self-consciously irrational grounds. *Apostolic preachers were, in effect, cross examined every time they proclaimed the gospel.

    But does the sheer weight of evidence, compelling beyond all reasonable doubt, force someone to become a Christian? No! This job is assigned to the Holy Spirit. The work of the Holy Spirit is to enable the heart of the sinful man to freely act upon the compelling evidences.
    For God so loved the world that he gave his One and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16 NIV) The mini-Gospel.

  • Marine Corps Vet Tempe, AZ
    Nov. 17, 2011 2:09 p.m.

    Jiggle @ 1:13 pm.
    I'm still trying to wrap my head around your assertion; "consider that not a single histroian, philosopher, scribe or follower who lived before or doing the alleged time of Jesus ever mentions him".

    With the singular exception of Luke, whose date of bith we cannot discern with absoulute authority, all other authors of the New Testament lived during the time of Jesus and all certainly qualified as being his "followers". In the second century A.D. there were over 90 well known written works that centered on the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. Many (most) of these "books" including the 27 books that became cannonized as the "testament" of Jesus Christ were authored by those who lived during the time of Christ and knew him well, including Mary Magdaline. That bit of factual trivia makes your statement, quoted above, baseless and factualy ignorant.

  • Mormoncowboy Provo, Ut
    Nov. 17, 2011 2:19 p.m.

    Sharrona -

    If the evidence is that compelling, then perhaps you could provide just the most compelling evidence in your next comment. What say you?

    Here is the best evidence - If Jesus needed to prove his divinity by appearing to other after his resurrection, then given that we are now some two thousand years after that event, and seeing as how we should have every rational reason to doubt a story that has passed through so many hands, perhaps Jesus ought to just show himself now. Until he does, I'll follow Peters example and work on my boat.

  • Jiggle Clearfield, UT
    Nov. 17, 2011 2:33 p.m.

    @sharrona

    You must have certain evidence Jesus existed before you can use "reasonable doubt" for his resurrection.

    The evidence for the supposed events on which Christianity bases its truth is not based on direct evidence, but only indirect (circumstantial) evidence. There is nothing wrong with circumstantial evidence. However, since such evidence is based on drawing valid inferences from other, direct facts which have been proven, the inferences drawn must be examined carefully. Circumstantial evidence is sufficient...if the finding is reasonably probable (not merely possible) and more probable than any other alternative the inference sought from circumstantial evidence must outweigh all contrary inferences so as to amount to a preponderance of all inferences that might be drawn from the same circumstances. It is these inferences which must satisfy the test of comparable probability. For instance, is it more probable to believe that an executed man came back to life, or that his followers convinced themselves that such an event took place? Which is the more probable explanation? That is the fundamental problem with the Christian "evidence": it is not legally acceptable evidence, and there IS ample reasonable doubt. Sorry, but the premise you present can easily be disputed.

  • Brahmabull sandy, ut
    Nov. 17, 2011 2:42 p.m.

    Marine Corps Vet - You didn't ask me the question, but I will answer it according to my understanding. The gospel of Luke in the new testament, as we read it, has never been proven to have come from Luke. If you do just a little research you will find that most historians peg this gospel to Luke, but none can say for sure as the earliest manuscript they have is from 200's A.D. - clearly after Luke was dead. So while you may think the scriptures are accurate as Luke wrote them at the time, that is far from the truth. It is hard to tell 2,000 years after the fact what is real, what is fiction, and what is a little of both.

    The gospel of Matthew, Mark, and John were written anonymously, most historians attribute them to those named in the new testament, but again none can be sure. So to me that isn't terribly reliable.

    We have been told that these men wrote these gospels, and that is why we believe it without question. But factually we don't know and that is why religious history is so cloudy and unreliable.

  • Jiggle Clearfield, UT
    Nov. 17, 2011 2:54 p.m.

    @Marine Corps Vet

    I don't make assertions not based on facts....or at least on scholarly opinion_study, so it isn't factually ignorant. The consensus of many biblical historians put the dating of the earliest Gospel, that of Mark, at sometime after 70 C.E., and the last Gospel, John after 90 C.E. [Pagels, 1995; Helms]. This would make it some 40 years after the alleged crucifixion of Jesus that we have any Gospel writings that mention him. Elaine Pagels writes that "the first Christian gospel was probably written during the last year of the war, or the year it ended. Where it was written and by whom we do not know; the work is anonymous, although tradition attributes it to Mark..." [Pagels, 1995]
    The traditional Church has portrayed the authors as the apostles Mark, Luke, Matthew, & John, but scholars know from critical textural research that there simply occurs no evidence that the gospel authors could have served as the apostles described in the Gospel stories. The stories themselves cannot serve as examples of eyewitness accounts since they came as products of the minds of the unknown authors, and not from the characters themselves.

  • defibman Syracuse, UT
    Nov. 17, 2011 2:54 p.m.

    Excellent article! Those who doubt want all the evidence in front of them. I have no doubt that Christ has appeared to many people since his resurrection. Those who he appeared to were those who believed in him. Those who doubt will not be convinced because they doubt all things that are spiritual.

    To study the lives of the original twelve and also the Apostle Paul is a pleasure and enlighting experience.

  • welcomethemall Nampa, ID
    Nov. 17, 2011 4:01 p.m.

    skeptic takes the relatively easier side of the argument... by arguing for the "negative", he does not have the burden of proof -- that rests on "us" as believers.

    American man, that's a rather silly question as it is a logical impossibility to prove the absence of something (rather like the square root of a negative - it is a construct that cannot exist in the real world).

    Brahmer-bull (gotta say like my grandaddy :)) makes a fair request of the rest of us, and we need to step up to the intellectual (and faithful) rigor requisite to the burden of the "affirmative."

    However, just because it's a fair request don't confuse it with profundity. It's a lot easier to be a critic (which is why everyone is one).

  • Abeille West Haven, Utah
    Nov. 17, 2011 4:53 p.m.

    I think many of you take the wrong side of this. This is not about proof - it's about belief and faith. What 'proof' could be offered to you who have your minds made up against such things that would change your position? Would newly discovered documents circa 40 AD convince you to believe? Would a vision of a Heavenly Messenger sent from God to proclaim the gospel convince you, or would you simply put it down to lack of sleep, too much alcohol, a nervous breakdown, or something else?

    Faith is a belief in things not seen, which are true. It is accepting 'evidences' all around that point to a God. It is accepting evidence of his only son born in the flesh, Jesus the Messiah. It involves accepting his sacrifical atonement and applying it in your life. It is receiving that Holy Spirit - the spirit of the Holy Ghost - who bears testimony of these truths.

    Look, you have the right not to believe. It's your choice. However, absence of evidence is NOT evidence of absence. Do you really love? Can you prove you love? Even if you tried, I wouldn't have to accept any evidence you give.

  • Marine Corps Vet Tempe, AZ
    Nov. 17, 2011 5:01 p.m.

    Jiggle @ 2:54
    I have no problem with your scholarship and scholarly attempt to prove the otherwise unprovable. In your studies you undoubtedly have learned a couple of significant things. The pilage of Jerusalem destroyed precious artifacts, records, books and most all elements of histroical evidence, however, the one thing that could not be destroyed was what is commonly known as the "Sayings of Christ". These "sayings" eventually were reduced to written record, both the cannonized scriptures and the successive apocryphal works. You are right concerning the authorship of the Gosple of Luke and few will argue that point, however the authorship of Matthew and Mark are considered, by bibical scholars, to be authentic to the named author. There is some evidence that the Gosple of John may have have had more than one author. What say you concerning the Apostle Paul AD 5 to AD 67. Some, though not all of his epistles survived and are substantial in proving the life and ministrey of Jesus Christ. Of course, as a devout member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, all the proof I need is found in 3rd Nephi of the B of M.

  • Mormoncowboy Provo, Ut
    Nov. 17, 2011 5:30 p.m.

    Welcomethemall:

    I agree with you that the skeptical argument is the "easier" road, but that's only because it's the most logical. To say that critics choose the path of least resistance because they are lazy, well that's completely off base. Believers use a common metaphor, that they must "excercise faith". Reading into that a bit, essentially a person must input something of their own effort into the belief, which does not exist independent of their efforts. You have to make faith happen, because the underlying beliefs are not self-supporting. Critics simply refuse rather demand that their beliefs be supported independent of their hopes. Framed in this manner, I'll take the critics path.

    Abeille:

    "What 'proof' could be offered to you who have your minds made up against such things that would change your position?"

    A manifestation of Christ would be the obvious answer. You may see that as an extreme answer, but in any other context it would generally be the evidence you require. If I told you I could fly, and even provided witnesses and documentation coupled with a convenient explanation for why I can never demonstrate it to you...would you buy it?

  • Full-on double rainbow Bluffdale, UT
    Nov. 17, 2011 5:54 p.m.

    "Would a vision of a Heavenly Messenger sent from God to proclaim the gospel convince you, or would you simply put it down to lack of sleep, too much alcohol, a nervous breakdown, or something else?"

    You make a good point that if you do have a "vision" from a heavenly messenger that its always best to take into accout your current mental and physical state. Drug induced visions probably don't carry the same weight as say a non-drug induced vision. But who am I to go around with a confidence scale for peoples heavenly messenger visions. Personaly, I have yet to experience anything close to vision, but if I did I'd like to think that I would answer the call.

  • Vanka Provo, UT
    Nov. 17, 2011 6:07 p.m.

    Abeille,

    "This is not about proof - it's about belief and faith. What 'proof' could be offered to you who have your minds made up against such things that would change your position?"

    My mind is NOT made up against anything. But I have read, studied, prayed, pondered, fasted, and all the other stuff Mormons recommend, and have received nothing.

    What would convince me?

    I don't need new documents nor a vision of a Heavenly Messenger.

    I would accept a "still, small voice"; or a "burning in the bosom"; or any manifestation whatsoever that is remotely similar to those I hear Mormons telling about each Fast Sunday.

    But I have received NONE of those. Nothing.

    "Faith is ...accepting 'evidences' all around that point to a God."

    You mean like millions of infants starving around the world? Like the tsunamis and earthquakes? If these are evidence of a god, I would rather worship a monster.

    "Absence of evidence is NOT evidence of absence."

    If you really mean that, then you must also believe in Big Foot and Hindu Gods.

    Why don't you?

    Religions DIS-believe the gods of other religions. We just agree with ALL of you: NO Gods are real!

  • Jiggle Clearfield, UT
    Nov. 17, 2011 6:08 p.m.

    @Abeille

    I NEVER heard the definition that "faith is a belief in things not seen, which are true" until I came to Utah so I'm under the assumption that it is an LDS definition. The definition for faith I mostly see is: a conviction of the truth of certain doctrines of religion not based on proof or something similiar. Belief doesn't equal truth. Faith doesn't equal truth. The strength of a belief based on faith is irrelevant to its truth or falsehood. Do we decide based on whose faith has changed their lives the most? No, that's no indication of something being true. Do we decide based on how popular their belief is? No, the popularity of a belief has no bearing on whether it's true or not. Claims about the truth of religion or the existence of some god cannot be defended to a skeptical nonbeliever on the basis of faith. It means that faith is not an adequate or reasonable defense of any belief or belief system which purports to have any empirical connection to the reality which we all share. Faith is an unreliable way to determine truth when other more probable explanations are available.

  • sharrona layton, UT
    Nov. 18, 2011 8:05 a.m.

    @ Mormoncowboy, perhaps you could provide just the most compelling evidence in your next comment? Ok,
    The transformation of the disciples. Consider James the brother of Jesus. Josephus tells us that he died martyrs death. Yet the Gospels tell us during Jesus life he was an unbeliever and opposed Jesus. Why did he change? What could cause a Jew to believe his brother was the Son of God and willing to die for such a belief? Only the appearance of Jesus to James(1 Cor 15:7)can explain this transformation. As with James so it is with other disciples.

    Polycarp , "Eighty-six years I have served Christ, and He never did me any wrong. How can I blaspheme my King who saved me?" Steadfast in his stand for Christ, Polycarp refused to compromise his beliefs, and thus, was burned alive at the stake.
    One of many Messianic prophecies. For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption. (Psalm 16:10)Christ would rise from the dead(MK 16:6-7)
    Abraham and Isaac See(Gen 22:13. There will be a restoration to life Hebrews 11:19. (1of2)

  • RanchHand Huntsville, UT
    Nov. 18, 2011 9:14 a.m.

    The story of Jesus is just a theft of the beliefs of other cultures of earlier times.

    Much like Christianity later adopted/integrated the beliefs of pagans as they conquered them, they stole the original story from cultures that existed earlier.

  • Gracie Boise, ID
    Nov. 18, 2011 9:20 a.m.

    Two points:
    1. My illiterate east European immigrant grandmother never believed in germs--they didn't exist because she couldn't see them, just a plot to put over silly American notions and make her life with sanctimonious children learning such drivel more annoying. I gave it my best shot, as a young grandchild, to enlighten her to no avail. Loved her anyway.
    2. As a brand new, yet untested member of the LDS Church at 19 and also newly married, I believed all the promises regarding learning the fullness of truth. I begged my young husband to test the promises for himself because I trusted the outcome if he followed the process. He said he did, and that he, as Vanka, received no such witness. Long story short, I was left believing both him and the scriptural promises, and very confused--until two years later when he bore witness that he'd lied to get me off his case. He joined the Church because, as he said, he couldn't refute it anymore; but he never developed the faith it would take during our life together to build a solid foundation. He always relied on mine and I couldn't sustain us both.

  • Mormoncowboy Provo, Ut
    Nov. 18, 2011 9:49 a.m.

    Sharrona:

    That is hardly compelling. How could I even begin to comment on the motivations of a person may have existed 2,000 years ago. Do we have examples today of people who make drastic changes in their belief systems, even dying for the new found beliefs? Yes. Do you accept the divinity of everyone of their claims? If no, then why are you so generous in your treatment of James? The scriptures tell a story, and you make no effort to question the character assesments made by ancient historians, of people you have absolutely no way of knowing anything about. How do you verify any of this?

    I find this to be the case quite often from people who insist that their faith is evidenced based. They point to the fact that there is a lot of ancient documentation, which is their only point of evidence, and then just go carelessly by from their making whatever claims they want contorting the "evidence" to their convenience.

    This is at least one point that I give to the Mormon approach to faith, that is that they generally recognize that their beliefs are based on spiritual manifestations not physical.

  • Ross Madison, AL
    Nov. 18, 2011 9:57 a.m.

    Such a great article, the Apostles knew that Jesus was resurrected, and they had taken the Holy Spirit for their guide, for by the power of the Holy Ghost you can know the truth of all things. They no longer feared mortal death for it had been overcome, they no longer feared spiritual death for they had the Holy Spirit and were anxiously engaged in teaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I appreciate the wisdom of Gamaliel who pointed out that they should wait and let this thing run its course, for if it was good they could find that they had been fighting against God. Why can't people accept this same wisdom today in relation to accepting the Mormons and their fruits into the mainstream of American society?

  • Larry Lawton Wan Chai, Hong Kong
    Nov. 18, 2011 10:32 a.m.

    I enjoyed Daniel Peterson's article. He offers an interesting insight: Would not the leaders in Jerusalem have ended Christianity by displaying the body of Jesus if they could have done so? Can one easily dismiss the fearless preaching of the apostles and their success? I think those who discount the authorship of the gospels and ascribe them to later times might do well to consider recent discoveries that support the accuracy of the scriptures. Even the deutro-Isaiah concept is being reexamined. The pre-Christian copies of Isaiah contain the self-same prophesies that many once thought had to be additions or changes by later Christian copiests. Certainly, faith will always have a role, but one need not check the mind at the chapel door, and time seems to favor the believer.

  • Bill in Nebraska Maryville, MO
    Nov. 18, 2011 12:23 p.m.

    To those of us who believe and have received a witness we are called liars, ignorant, uneducated, and even idiots. Why, because we have received a witness. Vanka makes a valid point but then says there is no such thing as Gods anywhere. Others say if I had a manisfestation I would believe yet when someone else says they have, we are laughed at, criticized and even told, you can't trust that feeling because it isn't real. Yet, for thousands around the world it has happened. It has occurred but yet we are wrong for knowing what it says to us.

    The truth is that if thousands of individuals have had such an experience, is it real. Science says no. The learned man says no. The skeptic says no. Yet, we still believe and know beyond any certainty that what happened is as true as I am alive. You can criticize it and you can sweep it under a rug but the manisfestations that many have had, including myself are real and have occurred. Since I know that our Father is Heaven is not a respector of persons, that it is open to all. It is up to you.

  • Bill in Nebraska Maryville, MO
    Nov. 18, 2011 12:28 p.m.

    Nothing that I say orwhat someone else says will ever convince you. It is all up to the individual. For one to obtain the answer has been given. Some will say as Vanka has stated I have done that and received nothing. I can not explain that any more than he can explain why I did receive something, but there is no doubt that many have received exactly the same thing the APostles of Old have received and they bear witness of it. It is an individual thing but still it us up to us. I stand as a witness to the truthfulness of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Days Saints as the Lord's Jesus Christ only true and living Church on earth today. I stand as a witness that Our Heavenly Father and his Son, Jesus Christ, speaks to a living Prophet today, Thomas S. Monson. I stand as a witness that the Book of Mormon is true and was translated by the power of Heaven by the Prophet Joseph Smith. These I KNOW are true beyond anything science or man can say. How I know is really up to you find out why.

  • Brahmabull sandy, ut
    Nov. 18, 2011 12:45 p.m.

    Bill Knows it is true, the muslims knew that they were going to god by flying planes into the world trade centers, catholics know, methodists know, baptists know. Everybody knows beyond a shadow of a doubt that they are right, yet it cannot be that they are all right can it? Bill must have a monopoly on truth, because he KNOWS!

  • Mormoncowboy Provo, Ut
    Nov. 18, 2011 1:02 p.m.

    You have to admit Bill, that it is the highest demonstration of certainty to strap a bomb to your chest and then blow yourself up, right? Yet, just like your certainty, the Muslims faith is no more compelling to me. Furthermore, you vaguely refer to "manifestations", but are unwilling to move deeper. Instead, you pose your argument against "science" as though science has anything to say about your beliefs. Science isn't a thing that says "stuff", rather it is a method for reducing uncertainty and reducing our tendency to make false assumptions. In other words, science isn't going to tell you that your religion is false. Instead it is going to provide you with the means to test your claims to see if they hold up. You believe that you have had an "experience". Science invites you to explore that experience and to develop tests to see if your interpretation of that experience is valid.

    So, some questions to ask:

    1) What is the nature of my experiences which give me certainty.

    2) Can I repeat this experience under consistent conditions.

    3) Can I have this experience under contradiction to the assumptions.

    etc, etc, etc.

    Science isn't your enemy.

  • Brahmabull sandy, ut
    Nov. 18, 2011 1:06 p.m.

    Thats where people like Bill lose me, saying that they KNOW. They may believe with everything in them, but one cannot know %100, yet they claims to KNOW. I know that they want to be strong in testimony and that is fine, but when people in the church say that they KNOW I lose interest. Members are expected to gain a testimony and know, not believe, but KNOW. So there is alot of pressure to meet up to the expectations of gaining a testimony that KNOWS. It puts unneeded pressure on our youth that we are supposed to KNOW that it is true or we have done something wrong or we are ignoring the answer.

  • sharrona layton, UT
    Nov. 18, 2011 2:53 p.m.

    @Mormon Cowboy. How do you verify any of this?

    The shift from Judaism to Christianity among the early Jewish converts . Society did not change So rapidly in those days. Jews would risk becoming social out-casts if they tampered with their 5 major beliefs. 1. The importance of animal sacrifices 2. Law emphasis, right standing before God. 3. Laws enacted defining Sabbath keeping. 4. Clear cut Non-Trinitarian, Monotheism 5. The Messiah was pictured as super human in the Davidic kingdom, but not God himself, not to mention they would risk the damnation of their souls. Why was such a major change made in such a short time after a death of a carpenter? Who had suffered the death of a criminal on the cross, a death expressly detested among Jews, cursed is he who dies on a tree, the resurrection offers the only rational explanation.

    Two sacraments were prominent in the early church and both presuppose the resurrection of Jesus. 1.The celebration of the Lords Supper(Eucharist,G 2168)this was not a celebration to mourn Jesus death but His resurrection. 2. Baptism (Romans 6:1-6)&Col 2:12)demonstrates the Jesus death and resurrection.

  • skeptic Phoenix, AZ
    Nov. 18, 2011 3:00 p.m.

    If one wishes to know the history of Jesus (if there is a history) then they should go talk to the Jews. Jesus was a Jew, all his followers were Jews, his story is in the land of Jews. Who would know better than the Jews. Go ask them and learn what they say.

  • Bill in Nebraska Maryville, MO
    Nov. 18, 2011 5:01 p.m.

    Brahmabull: It doesn't put added stress on our youth. What puts added stress on the youth is the peer pressure from outside of the home and church. This again is where you mislead. Testimonies are not borne over night or in some instances all at once. Mine however came instantly and has grown over the years as line upon line, precept upon precept was learned and tested. This testimony therefore is more than a belief but pure knowledge. Suggest you read Ether and Moroni again to see how this is gained. Yes, it is possible to have perfect knowledge in this life. However, as President McKay stated he never had a perfect understanding of everything. There is a difference.

    Thank you for not dispelling who I knew would mock me. Shows your ignorance of the things of God and what you still have time to learn. I was in your shoes once but I have gone past that. I hope my testimony is strong enough to weather the storm that is coming. I just hope I have the resilence that my ancestors did to withstand the ridicule and hatred of those who persecuted them.

  • Shelama SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    Nov. 19, 2011 12:56 a.m.

    Peterson's article and many of the responses here seem to uncritically accept the anti-intellectual propositions that the Bible is the word of a god (or God); the Bible is reliable history; and that common forms of religious experience should be interpreted as a ghost (or Ghost) bearing truth and knowledge.

    One needn't give excessive credence to Acts to still conclude that some followers of Jesus came to believe that, in some sense, Jesus had been awakened to life in God or "resurrected." For Paul, there's evidence that did not include either an empty tomb or a literal, physically resurrected body. Paul explicitly equated his own "ophthe" experience with those of Jesus' disciples and apostles. For Paul, Jesus could just as easily have been resurrected if he had been totally consumed by Roman lions or Roman fire, nothing left to bury. Or if the body of Jesus had been left to rot away on the cross.

    Beyond that, while we know from his own writings what Paul fearlessly believed and taught, we don't know what it was the Jerusalem community taught. But we do know that Acts glosses the arguments & disagreements between Peter and Paul.

  • Joggle Clearfield, UT
    Nov. 19, 2011 2:49 p.m.

    @Marine Corps Vet

    Paul's epistles were written probably around 60 C.E. Most scholars have little reason to doubt that Paul wrote some of them himself. Of the thirteen epistles, bible scholars think he wrote only eight of them, and even here, there occurs interpolations. Not a single instance in any of Paul's writings claims that he ever meets or sees an earthly Jesus, nor does Paul give any reference to Jesus' life on earth (except for a few well known interpolations). Therefore, all accounts about a Jesus could only have come from other believers or his imagination. Hearsay. Matthew and Mark--The author of Matthew had obviously gotten his information from Mark's gospel and used them for his own needs. He fashioned his narrative to appeal to Jewish tradition and scripture. He improved the grammar of Mark's_gospel, corrected what he felt theologically important, and heightened the miracles and magic.

    The Gospels describe narrative stories, written almost virtually in the third person. People who wish to portray themselves as eyewitnesses will write in the first person, not in the third person. Moreover, many of the passages attributed to Jesus could only have come from the invention of its authors.

    Space_severely_limits_my_explanation.

  • Joggle Clearfield, UT
    Nov. 19, 2011 3:22 p.m.

    @Marine Corps Vet

    I could present much more that leads me to believe Jesus either didn't exist or if he did, he wasn't divine....but why bother? Perhaps my criteria for belief is much higher than yours as well as many people. I require certain proof. There is no certain proof. That's why there is faith. I don't just accept people or their experiences because of the way it first looks or seems, without thinking about what else it could mean or be. I look at all possible and available explanations and which is most probable before coming to a conclusion. Based on all I've learned and experienced I cannot accept that Jesus actually existed or that the God described in human written religious texts is real. My extensive studies tell me that there is not enough certain evidence to support that Jesus actually existed. Every claim about Jesus' existence can be refuted or a more probable explanation always exists. Books prove nothing. People's religious experiences prove nothing. People's feelings prove nothing. People's testimonies prove nothing. People's faith prove nothing. If I could believe I would since I have nothing to stop me other than personally needing certain proof that_doesn't_exist.

  • goldfever St. George, U
    Nov. 19, 2011 8:15 p.m.

    @BillinNebraska
    You may die for what you believe, you may put all your earthly possessions into your belief. Yet its still just a belief. You don't KNOW for sure unless you have seen God or an angel that told you the truth and gave you a perfect knowledge. I know plenty of Catholics that KNOW the Pope is the mouth piece of of God. I have met hardcore Jews that Jesus wasn't the savior. I have met plenty of people that are hard headed and know they are right. If you look back in time most wars where fought over people knowing they were right and the others evil. Crusades ring a bell or maybe The Spanish Inquisitions? Maybe if you would not be so hard headed and open you would see this.
    All you have is faith maybe a strong faith but faith none the less.

  • Shelama SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    Nov. 19, 2011 9:19 p.m.

    "Peter flatly identified the residents of Jerusalem as the killers of Jesus, testifying that God had raised Jesus from the dead and identifying himself and his colleagues as witnesses to these claims... At this point, if Peter's assertion were false, critics could easily have exhumed Jesus' body and ended the nonsense."

    This assumes there was a body to exhume. Luke's fiction was written decades after Rome killed Jesus. Likely as not the body of Jesus remained on the cross as carrion meal for crows and dogs. Perhaps a shallow, common grave covered with a bit of lime. Paul's own letters, predating the invention of the "empty tomb" by Mark, show NO knowledge or interest in either an empty tomb, or in literal, physical, bodily appearances to himself or to anyone else.

    The supposed most memorable event in all of human history shows no evidence of a common memory: the Gospels all go their separate, merry ways with resurrection appearance stories. For Paul, all of the experiences, to himself, the apostles and others, were "ophthe," which does not demand a literal, bodily appearance. A belief in a resurrection, yes, but there never was an empty tomb. Exhume, indeed.

  • Bill in Nebraska Maryville, MO
    Nov. 19, 2011 9:33 p.m.

    To Goldfever: "Yea, he that repenteth and exerciseth faith and bringeth forth good works, and prayeth continually without ceasing--unto such it is given to KNOW the mysteries of God.....".

    As one who grows and learns line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little, this knowledge soon becomes less about faith but about pure knowledge. So yes it is very real. Has nothing to do with hardedness. My eyes have been opened and I have been given my own personal revelations to the knowledge of what I have learned. So yes I DO KNOW for sure about what I have spoken. I do not take it back nor do I reframe from agreeing with one who has no understanding of what I speak. It is open to all who wish to know. "But lethim ask in faith,nothing wavering.For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed." "A double minded man is unstable in all ways." I am not double minded in this but apparently you are. Ask and you shall receive is as plain as it can get.

  • Shelama SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    Nov. 19, 2011 10:57 p.m.

    According to the Gospel stories none of the disciples, even after all Jesus had told them in person, believed that Jesus had been resurrected until after they had actually seem him. Paul also did not believe in Jesus' resurrection until after, in some sense, Jesus "appeared" to him also.

    Nobody else should believe or be converted on any less experience or evidence.

    While it's safe to assume that Paul believed his own theology, and his own use of Jewish scripture as he applied it to the crucifixion and imagined resurrection of Jesus, why should anybody else? Christianity ultimately succeeded only because Paul created something acceptable to Greco-Roman pagans totally ignorant of Hebrew scripture & messianism.

    Christianity flopped within Judaism, as a Judaism, not because of stiff necks or hard hearts, but simply because Jews correctly recognized Jesus as, at best, a failed or false messiah. Beginning as a Judaism completely unlike what eventually evolved, Christianity became in all respects the synthetic invention of a successful Christian messiah from out of a failed Jewish one. The contrived use of Jewish scripture to show Jesus as messiah and fulfillment is evident all through NT. Powerful and seductive myth, nothing more.

  • goldfever St. George, U
    Nov. 20, 2011 12:27 a.m.

    @BillinNebraska
    Rambling off a few scriptures isnt proof much less even worthy of a reply. However there are devote Muslims that will do the same as you just did as their proof. There are devote Buddhist that will quote the Buddha and Hindus etc etc. So like I stated before you may die for what you believe and believe it so hard no one can change you mind but its still just a belief. People from every religion can claim a burning in the bosom feeling. I get that feeling every time I hear the National Anthem and when I used to be a hard core Mormon. But something happened I woke up and smelled reality. Good luck in your happy land dream world.

  • The Atheist Provo, UT
    Nov. 20, 2011 8:54 a.m.

    Religion poisons everything... most tragically, good human minds.

  • sharrona layton, UT
    Nov. 20, 2011 9:03 a.m.

    Re: Joggle said,My extensive studies tell me that there is not enough certain evidence to support that Jesus actually existed.

    History: Josephus (37 100), has been credited by many as recording some of the earliest history of Jesus Christ outside of the gospels.

    Greek History: Nomina Sacra found in *Greek manuscripts from the 1st - 3rd Centuries. Jesus=ΙS Christ/Messiah=ΧS, Son=ΥS. Sacred code.*transliterated.

    Jewish History: The feasts given to Israel have a three-fold significance. 1. The seasonal aspect of each Holiday . 2. A memorial of Gods dealing with the Hebrews. 3. A prophetic symbolism of Gods dealing with His Church made up of believing Jews and Gentiles. Leviticus 23: Passover(The redeemed by Jesus), Unleavened bread(justification), First fruits(resurrection), Pentecost(Holy Spirit), Trumpets(Christs return), Day of Atonement (Christ, once offered ) and Booths.

    Messianic Judaism : Jesus is the Hellenized form of Yeshua which means salvation in Hebrew. Yeshua(Joshua) never heard the name Jesus in his life time.
    Prophecy: 35 Messianic prophecies fulfilled in Christ: Born of a seed of a women, Time of birth, place of birth,hands&feet pierced. Short list.
    Space limits my explanation of prophetic texts.

  • goldfever St. George, U
    Nov. 21, 2011 11:44 a.m.

    @sharrona
    Copy and pasting information you googled isn't proof. Try again

  • Joggle Clearfield, UT
    Nov. 21, 2011 11:45 a.m.

    @Sharrona

    Although many scholars think that Josephus' short accounts of Jesus (in Antiquities)came from interpolations perpetrated by a later Church father (most likely, Eusebius), Josephus' birth in 37 C.E. (well after the alleged crucifixion of Jesus), puts him out of range of an eyewitness account. Moreover, he wrote Antiquities in 93 C.E., after the first gospels got written! Therefore, even if his accounts about Jesus came from his hand, his information could only serve as hearsay.

    We have the gospels portraying Jesus as famous far and wide with great multitudes of people who knew about him, including the greatest Jewish high priests and Roman authorities of the area, and not one person records his existence during his lifetime?!

    Those so called fulfilled prophecies failed, were false or weren't prophecies at all. Many of these prophecies are so vague, they can be attributed to different events. It's also a fact that the Bible was written many years after these presumed prophecies and their "fulfillment" took place. It is important to recognize that biblical prophecies fail to meet the criteria for what makes prophecies valid. They are not predictions to be taken literally because there are too many failures_to_justify_this.

  • kenny Sterling Heights, MI
    Nov. 21, 2011 6:48 p.m.

    Religous beliefs is not nor will it ever be based on that which can be seen as fact, things proven,something that has hard evidence to prove that it is what it claims to be. So where or what do we base our beliefs on.....well sure.....Faith. It has always been and will always be faith.But the educated skeptic sometimes has a difficult time with that faith word.Is there place for faith in the minds of the skeptic? I dont think so.Notice I said sometimes as two people are not quite the same.My acceptence of the scriptures is based on Faith and I do not need to provide proof for that to anyone. One can look at the evidence both for and against a postion and call one truth and the other a lie But a mans faith no matter where that faith takes him can never be seen as a lie.There is a greater lesson to be learned not from the text books of knowledge but from the principles that drive a simple mind such as mine based on simple faith.