Do You Believe in Jesus?

I keep a folder of potential blogging material. I recently pulled out the following post I found in a Usenet newsgroup I used to read. It was also cross-posted here.

Suppose a group of people walk up to you on the street and one of them introduces himself as John, the son of God? Those surrounding him say they believe in John and have witnessed miracles he has performed. One of his disciples announces from the crowd that John has healed the lame and cured the sick. He says "our book teaches that the authorities will cause John great suffering and kill him but he will not die! "Do you believe that John is the Son of God? Why? Why not?

Suppose John proceeds to produce a glass filled with a clear liquid seemingly from nowhere. "I shall turn this glass of water into wine" he says and with a gesture the water turns into what appears to be wine. He then says to you "will you believe me now that I am the son of God, worship and serve me as your savior"?.

Would you?

Would you say that this man is a probably a fraud when you have direct evidence that he has apparently performed miracles?

Trickery you say.

If it is so easy not to believe this man and his supporters how is it possible for you to believe in a 2000 year old story based on hearsay evidence. Beware of false Gods? John has warned his people of them too.

None of the events which point to Jesus as the Son of God is current like the evidence for John? Why is the bible, a book, written by humans such a long time ago taken as the gospel truth? It is even quoted by people as the word of God. Why is John’s evidence that you can see with your eyes not believed? Evidence which is stronger than the evidence from a 2000 year old book?

Do you think people that lived in ancient times were more or less gullible than you? What kind of experiences did the average man have 2000 years ago? How long did he live? What did he read? Did he know what caused disease? What a comet was? What planets were? How old the earth really was? Did he know about germs, penguins and dinosaurs? Good nutrition and health care? Did he know a miracle when he heard about it?

Just wondering.

D. Haas

I’ve always found that to be an interesting argument against Christianity. What do you fine folks think?

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About Funky Dung

Who is Funky Dung? 29-year-old grad student in Intelligent Systems (A.I.) at the University of Pittsburgh. I consider myself to be politically moderate and independent and somewhere between a traditional and neo-traditional Catholic. I was raised Lutheran, spent a number of years as an agnostic, and joined the Catholic Church at the 2000 Easter Vigil. Why Funky Dung? I haven't been asked this question nearly as many times as you or I might expect. Funky Dung is a reference to an obscure Pink Floyd song. On the album Atom Heart Mother, there is a track called Atom Heart Mother Suite. It's broken up into movements, like a symphony, and one of the movements is called Funky Dung. I picked that nickname a long time ago (while I was still in high school I think), shortly after getting an internet connection for the first time. To me it means "cool/neat/groovy/spiffy stuff/crap/shiznit", as in "That's some cool stuff, dude!" Whence Ales Rarus? I used to enjoy making people guess what this means, but I've decided to relent and make it known to all. Ales Rarus is a Latin play on words. "Avis rarus" means "a rare bird" and carries similar meaning to "an odd fellow". "Ales" is another Latin word for bird that carries connotations of omens, signs of the times, and/or augery. If you want to get technical, both "avis" and "ales" are feminine (requiring "rara", but they can be made masculine in poetry (which tends to breaks lots of rules). I decided I'd rather have a masculine name in Latin. ;) Yeah, I'm a nerd. So what? :-P Wherefore blog? It is my intention to "teach in order to lead others to faith" by being always "on the lookout for occasions of announcing Christ by word, either to unbelievers . . . or to the faithful" through the "use of the communications media". I also act knowing that I "have the right and even at times a duty to manifest to the sacred pastors [my] opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church, and [I] have a right to make [my] opinion known to the other Christian faithful, with due regard to the integrity of faith and morals and reverence toward [my and their] pastors, and with consideration for the common good and the dignity of persons." (adapted from CCC 904-907) Statement of Faith I have been baptized and confirmed in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I, therefore, renounce Satan; I renounce all his works; I renounce all his allurements. I hold and profess all that is contained in the Apostles' Creed, the Niceno- Constantinopolitan Creed, and the Athanasian Creed. Having been buried with Christ unto death and raised up with him unto a new life, I promise to live no longer for myself or for that world which is the enemy of God but for him who died for me and rose again, serving God, my heavenly Father, faithfully and unto death in the holy Catholic Church. I am obedient to the Magisterium of the Catholic Church. That is, I promote and defend authentic Catholic Teaching and Faith in union with Christ and His Church and in union with the Holy Father, the Bishop of Rome, the Successor of St. Peter. Thanks be unto Thee, O my God, for all Thy infinite goodness, and, especially, for the love Thou hast shown unto me at my Confirmation. I Give Thee thanks that Thou didst then send down Thy Holy Spirit unto my soul with all His gifts and graces. May He take full possession of me for ever. May His divine unction cause my face to shine. May His heavenly wisdom reign in my heart. May His understanding enlighten my darkness. May His counsel guide me. May His knowledge instruct me. May His piety make me fervent. May His divine fear keep me from all evil. Drive from my soul, O Lord, all that may defile it. Give me grace to be Thy faithful soldier, that having fought the good fight of faith, I may be brought to the crown of everlasting life, through the merits of Thy dearly beloved Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen. Behind the Curtain: an Interview With Funky Dung (Thursday, March 03, 2005) I try to avoid most memes that make their way 'round the blogosphere (We really do need a better name, don't we?), but some are worth participating in. Take for instance the "interview game" that's the talk o' the 'sphere. I think it's a great way to get to know the people in neighborhood. Who are the people in your neighborhood? In your neighborhod? In your neigh-bor-hoo-ood...*smack* Sorry, Sesame Street flashback. Anyhow, I saw Jeff "Curt Jester" Miller's answers and figured since he's a regular reader of mine he'd be a good interviewer. Without further ado, here are my answers to his questions. 1. Being that your pseudonym Funky Dung was chosen from a Pink Floyd track on Atom Heart Mother, what is you favorite Pink Floyd song and why? Wow. That's a tuffy. It's hard to pick out a single favorite. Pink Floyd isn't really a band known for singles. They mostly did album rock and my appreciation of them is mostly of a gestalt nature. If I had to pick one, though, it'd be "Comfortably Numb". I get chills up my spine every time I hear it and if it's been long enough since the last time, I get midty-eyed. I really don't know why. That's a rather unsatisfying answer for an interview, so here are the lyrics to a Rush song. It's not their best piece of music, but the lyrics describe me pretty well.

New World Man He's a rebel and a runner He's a signal turning green He's a restless young romantic Wants to run the big machine He's got a problem with his poisons But you know he'll find a cure He's cleaning up his systems To keep his nature pure Learning to match the beat of the old world man Learning to catch the heat of the third world man He's got to make his own mistakes And learn to mend the mess he makes He's old enough to know what's right But young enough not to choose it He's noble enough to win the world But weak enough to lose it --- He's a new world man... He's a radio receiver Tuned to factories and farms He's a writer and arranger And a young boy bearing arms He's got a problem with his power With weapons on patrol He's got to walk a fine line And keep his self-control Trying to save the day for the old world man Trying to pave the way for the third world man He's not concerned with yesterday He knows constant change is here today He's noble enough to know what's right But weak enough not to choose it He's wise enough to win the world But fool enough to lose it --- He's a new world man...
2. What do you consider your most important turning point from agnosticism to the Catholic Church. At some point in '99, I started attending RCIA at the Pittsburgh Oratory. I mostly went to ask a lot of obnoxious Protestant questions. Or at least that's what I told myself. I think deep down I wanted desperately to have faith again. At that point I think I'd decided that if any variety of Christianity had the Truth, the Catholic Church did. Protestantism's wholesale rejection of 1500 years of tradition didn't sit well with me, even as a former Lutheran. During class one week, Sister Bernadette Young (who runs the program) passed out thin booklet called "Handbook for Today's Catholic". One paragraph in that book spoke to me and I nearly cried as I read it.
"A person who is seeking deeper insight into reality may sometimes have doubts, even about God himself. Such doubts do not necessarily indicate lack of faith. They may be just the opposite - a sign of growing faith. Faith is alive and dynamic. It seeks, through grace, to penetrate into the very mystery of God. If a particular doctrine of faith no longer 'makes sense' to a person, the person should go right on seeking. To know what a doctrine says is one thing. To gain insight into its meaning through the gift of understanding is something else. When in doubt, 'Seek and you will find.' The person who seeks y reading, discussing, thinking, or praying eventually sees the light. The person who talks to God even when God is 'not there' is alive with faith."
At the end of class I told Sr. Bernadette that I wanted to enter the Church at the next Easter vigil. 3. If you were a tree what kind of, oh sorry about that .. what is the PODest thing you have ever done? I set up WikiIndex, a clearinghouse for reviews of theological books, good, bad, and ugly. It has a long way to go, but it'll be cool when it's finished. :) 4. What is your favorite quote from Venerable John Henry Newman? "Ten thousand difficulties do not make one doubt." 5. If you could ban one hymn from existence, what would it be? That's a tough one. As a member of the Society for a Moratorium on the Music of Marty Haugen and David Haas, there are obviously a lot of songs that grate on my nerves. If I had to pick one, though, I'd probably pick "Sing of the Lord's Goodness" by Ernie Sands.

10 thoughts on “Do You Believe in Jesus?

  1. John Everett

    I suggest a read of Frank Peretti’s book, “The Visitation”.

    It presents some good food for thought and prayer.

    The litmus test for anyone claiming that the are the Son of God is, like St. Thomas requested, is to have the doubter place their hands into the wounds in the claiment’s side, hands, and feet. An imposter, or a minion of Satan could not present those wounds since it was by them that he was defeated.

    Scripture tells us that with faith we can move mountains. In the example the one working the “miracles” may indeed be working in “faith”. But, we will know them by their fruit. And a lie can only stand up to the test of prayer and time for a very short duration. Their eyes will tell the story as will their heart.

    And on another note, I would indeed like to sit with the claimant just as the disciples on the road to Emmaus did, for indeed, Satan could not make manifest the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ in a celebration of the Mass!

    Pax vobis,


  2. Jerry Nora

    My thoughts:

    Can “John’s” disciples perform miracles themselves? Does John use his status as Son of God to get all the pretty 17 year old chicks as his wives (gigiddy gigiddy!), or uses his executive privilege for other bonuses? Is John humble or self-aggrandizing in his ways. Jesus would often avoid the crowds in order to pray, and early on, even told some of the people he healed not to say anything about him.

    And let’s say this John fellow does get killed by the government. Most messianic movements don’t last much longer than that: in the Gospels, the Caiaphas mentions a false Messiah named Judas, whose followers scattered after Judas’ death. How many Branch Davidians have you met in recent times, for that matter? Most movements don’t last much more than a generation, and to have the Church last two millennia and to have grown as it has, and continues to do so in many places, that’s something, even if you just look at it sociologically.

  3. Jeremy Pierce

    What about the resurrection and the fact that lots of lots of people, some of whom were not original part of Jesus’ group, testified to seeing him alive after he had been certified dead? I noticed the author sort of left that out.

  4. Sean

    Do I believe Jesus lived and walked around, preached and started a revolutionary movement and religion, yes. Do I believe he is God, not so much. I also dont think he ever claimed to be, its probably hearsay at best, or possibly intentional decption.

  5. Sean

    “What about the resurrection and the fact that lots of lots of people, some of whom were not original part of Jesus’ group, testified to seeing him alive after he had been certified dead? I noticed the author sort of left that out.”

    I hate to bring it up, but people report seeing Elvis and Hitler even though we know they are gone. I’m very skeptical about witnesses who saw him alive. Were they really able to even recognize him? How well did they know him? Had they ever even seen him close up? It probably was mostly rumors and people how wanted to believe so badly that they were deceived by their own eyes and mind.

  6. Adrian

    I say, “bring it”.

    Where is your God who was a man, and then rose on the third day (or even claimed to)? Let’s see people cast out demons in his name (and we can locate some if needed). Let’s see him heal the sick and raise the dead. Let’s see him forgive sins and break the bondages that hold people captive. Let’s see the martyrs he’s produced–thousands upon thousands who have willingly suffered death without afflicting harm, and who beg for the forgiveness of their persecutors out of love. When you’ve found these things, we can talk.

    This isn’t some philosophy or hearsay, this is reality, and it happens here and now.

    I say, “bring it”.

  7. Sean

    “My God isn’t some pie in the sky, and He’ll change your life if you’ll let him.”

    This gets to the root of why I’m not religious. Everyone says something long these lines. Everyone wants me to make a leap of faith, but no one has been able to give me a reason to leap into their religion over the other ones, without out first making a leap of faith. (I hope that paragraph isn’t too contorted)


  8. Adrian


    That’s a fair assessment. A couple of things come to mind:

    –Give God a chance: he’s willing to prove himself to you if you’re willing to move towards him. Seek, and you’ll find.

    –The other is that I can’t think of a more audacious claim than the Christion one: God humbled himself to become human, and permitted himself to be killed by humans, out of love to restore their union with him. I don’t know of any other gods who claim to do that.

    As a Catholic, I believe the fullness of truth subsists in the Catholic Church.

    Reach out to God, and ask him to reveal himself to you–he will.


  9. Pingback: Ales Rarus - A Rare Bird, A Strange Duck, One Funky Blog » Leap of Faith

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