Extraordinary Claims??

I follow J. Warner Wallace’s blog “Cold Case Christianity”.  A few days ago, the blog featured a video clip in which Wallace responded to the popular statement “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence”, a statement often used to argue against the believability or reasonableness of The Faith.

In my opinion, Wallace handled that statement quite well (as you can see here), so there is no need for me to say anything further about it.  What I would like to do, though, is say something about one part of it.  I want to question a part of it, actually.  I want to question the first part, the “extraordinary claims” part.

Obvious, whoever coined that statement took the existence of a god (either a generic higher power or the God I follow, the God of the Bible) to be an extraordinary claim.  Equally obviously, the many people who have repeated this statement over the years obviously agree.  I did as well when I first heard this statement somewhere around 1995-96 (right in the middle of my Bible college career).  When this statement was tossed as me, I immediately reacted by anxiously thinking, “Yes, the existence of God is an extraordinary claim and I must be able to give some extraordinary evidence for it.”

My immediate reaction when I saw the title of Wallace’s blog, though, was very different.  As soon as I saw that title, I thought not, “Yes, the existence of God is an extraordinary claim” but “The existence of God is an extraordinary claim?  Says who?”  I wondered what authority was certifying the existence of God to be extraordinary.  I further wondered if they were correct in certifying the existence of God to be extraordinary.  I most of all wondered if the existence of God is indeed extraordinary.

And I came to believe that it is not.  I came to believe that it is not based on the same idea I offered in the previous post on this blog, the idea that everything I see in the world around me has been created by someone I don’t now see.  If you didn’t read the last post, let me summarize this idea for you.  I live on a city park, and everything in that park was created.  Everything in that park come from someone or something else.  Whether it is the organic elements (the trees and grass which not only came from the seeds of other trees and grass but were purposefully planted where they are) or the inorganic elements (the buildings or ball fields which were clearly built by human hands).  As far as I can tell, this rule is absolute; there are no exceptions.  The organic elements are clearly not the original organic elements brought into existence at the moment the universe came into being but instead the descendants of those organic elements.  The inorganic elements are even more clearly not the product of the moment the universe came into being.  So whether you subscribe to a theist worldview or a materialistic one, you have to admit that everything I see in the park or in any other place I go to came not only to be where it is but to be itself by the agency of someone/something else before it.

That being the case, is the idea of the universe being brought into being by someone that extraordinary?  It is not.  That idea fits the pattern I see in the park and all the other places I go in my daily routine.  It fits this pattern of something being brought into existence by someone/something else.  That’s not extraordinary at all.  What is extraordinary is the opposite, the idea that the universe (the single biggest thing I see) brought itself into being or was brought into being by mindless forces or was never brought into being at all.  That idea violates the clear pattern of everything else I see, everything else I hear/taste/touch/experience.  That idea, in my opinion, is the extraordinary one.

Maybe extraordinary claims do require extraordinary evidence.  Maybe (as Wallace suggests) they don’t.  Maybe that is a legitimate rule, maybe it isn’t.  I don’t know.  What I do question is whether or not that rule applies to the idea of the existence of God.  I quite frankly think it doesn’t.  I think the idea of the existence of God is an ordinary as the existence of all the other unseen-but-obviously real creators who are behind everything I see every day.

Advertisements

Muslims, Christians, and Jesus Class

Some of the local pastors came up with the idea of combining our congregations in multi-site classes.  The classes would be hosted by a couple churches and led by people from different churches, thus bringing several groups together.  The material we chose to use for our first outing was a four-week study called Muslims, Christians, and Jesus.

Last night we held the first of the four weekly meetings in our building.  The discussion was facilitated by a lay leader from another church.  We had about twenty people in attendance.  One was a very nice Muslim man who was curious about what we were doing.

20170216_19313520170216_191040

One of the biggest take-aways I had from the night (besides the building of intercongregational cooperation and trust) was this comment: “We need God to deliver us from fear.  If you’re afraid of Muslims, you can’t talk to them.  If you don’t talk to them, how will they hear the good news that Jesus loves them?”  I thought that point about fear was a very good one, and I thought our gathering in this way (as well as another gathering on a different night at a different church with a different leader) is a good start toward becoming the unified, effective body God wants us to be.

 

Church Without Shoes Prayer Meeting

I’m a part of a group called Church Without Shoes.  Most of us in the group admit that the name is silly (it refers to the fact that under our denominational “shoes” (distinct practices and doctrines) our feet (faith) all look the same), but we love the group and the idea behind it.  The group started when several pastors/ministers from several denominations 1) became aware of each other, 2) saw some similarities in each other, and 3) began to trust each other enough to first pray together, then cooperate together, and ultimately do life/the life of faith together.

Each month the group meets for prayer.  Yesterday, we had our monthly prayer meeting at our congregation (First Christian Church – Pleasant Hill).  While we were praying, I managed to grab a couple pics.

I really need this group.  Do I have differences and disagreements with some of the pastors?  Absolutely!  Do I see those differences/disagreements as worthy of breaking fellowship with them?  Absolutely not.  What I have learned after nine years with these men and women is that their faith is as genuine as mine.  They are clearly followers of Christ.  Maybe the are in error about some things (maybe I’m am, too; I doubt I’ve got the faith perfect in doctrine and practice), but they are still clearly followers of Christ, members of His family, my brothers and sisters in the faith.  I believe I have to fellowship with them (1 John 5:1ff), and I am very happy to do so.

If there is a similar group in your area, you should consider participating.  You will get more than you lose.  If you’d like to check our group out, you can find us on our website and Facebook and Twitter.