I have recently stumbled upon a short book written by the Catholic theologian named Peter Kreeft. He deductively argued for Jesus’ divinity through an approach he summarized as “Aut deus aut homo malus.” (Either God or a Bad Man.) Basically, his argument works only on the assumption made by most historians. Jesus was a teacher, he claimed divinity, and was executed. So, assuming this is true he says Jesus must’ve been one of three things. One possibility is that he was a liar. He said he was divine even though he knew it was not true. Another possibility is that he was insane. He believed he was divine even though he wasn’t. The final possibility is that he was telling the truth and he was correct. He was divine. He goes through and points out that Jesus shows no symptoms of insanity. He had no motive for lying. In fact, he was executed because of his claims. That gives him a motive to deny his divinity, which he apparently was given a chance to do by according to the Jewish and Roman sources on the...

I don't find this argument persuasive - for what it's worth, versions of it have been given for centuries. History and common experience present us with many individuals who function well in many circumstances despite the fact that they have delusions of divine (or other) grandeur. Usually such individuals suffer greatly in all kinds of ways on account of their delusions. We do not take this suffering to speak to the correctness of their perceptions but rather to the psychically entrenched nature of their delusions. I do not see in any of the alleged facts about Jesus that you point to any reason for not counting him to be one such individual. In some everyday sense of "plausible," it seems much more plausible to think, on the basis of the evidence you have put forward, that he was delusional than to think that he was divine. So what I would take issue with is the claim that according to "the historical information ... [Jesus] showed no signs of insanity." He did: he claimed to be capable of...

Is the following situation a logical and rational reason to believe in G-d?: Judaism, unlike any other known religion, claims that G-d gave the torah not to just one person but to an entire nation. The whole nation of Israel, which numbered over a million people witnessed Moses receiving the ten commandments and heard G-d tell them what the torah was. Unless the above really happened, there is no logical way to explain the tradition that over a million people heard G-d speak. The generation it was supposed to happen to would not be able to be convinced that they saw something they really didn't. And if the "lie" tried to be started a few generations later, the people would ask why they had never heard this claim before. Therefore, it must have really happened and the torah and all it contains is divine.

Are you looking for independent evidence for God's existence, as described in Judaism? If so, I don't think the argument you offered does the trick. I suppose if we really had over a million people testifying to Moses' receiving instruction from God, then perhaps that should make us pause. But as you've told it, the story of the million witnesses is itself a part of the tradition we are looking to find evidence for. Imagine yourself trying to convince someone who didn't already believe what the Torah reports, didn't already believe what's in the Jewish tradition. Now even if we did have independent evidence for the existence of a million witnesses, should we be convinced? Well, we might want to know a lot more about those witnesses. After all, we do know that people can make mistakes, can be misled, even very large numbers of people.

Can you help me evaluate Judah HaLevi’s “Kuzari” argument for the authenticity of the Jewish Tradition? If you’ve not heard of it, I am happy to offer an imperfect synopsis, but you’re better off consulting some more reliable sources (see below). The Kuzari, in a nutshell: If public miracles (e.g., manna of Exodus 16) had occurred, they would have left behind a huge amount of accessible evidence. Therefore, had the miracles not occurred, an entire generation of Jews (millions of people) would never have been duped into believing that they did. Therefore, since virtually the entire Jewish people (along with the Christians and Moslems, presumably) *do* believe those miracles occurred, the only explanation is that they must have occurred.

History and our own personal experiences tell us that people -- even very large numbers of people -- can be mistaken or even bamboozled. So it cannot be right to say that "the only explanation" for those people's beliefs is that the alleged miraculous events occurred. But might it be the best explanation for their reports? The locus classicus is David Hume's "Of Miracles," which appears as Section X of his Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding . He argues there that the answer to the last question is a resounding No. If you want a powerful assessment of the argument you've presented, I'd start there.

Assume there is a God, who is the always-was, always-will-be Catholic version of a Supreme Being. If this is the first universe and the first earth (and, therefore, we are the first people) what in tarnation was He doing all that time before He decided to actuate the so-=called Big Bang?

In his Confessions (Book XI), St. Augustine turned his attention to those who kept asking "What was God doing before he created heaven and the earth?" and he answered them that "He was preparing Hell for people who pry into mysteries"!!! But he realized himself that "it is one thing to make fun of the questioner and another to find the answer." Eventually, he seemed to settle on the view that God brought the whole temporal order itself into being, and that before the existence of the temporal order notions like "before", "after", "then", "now" made no sense. He said that "if there was no time before heaven and earth were created, how can anyone ask what you [God] were doing 'then'? If there was no time, there was no 'then'." (For a more extended quotation from Augustine, see Question 249 .) For a similar kind of response to a question about the intelligibility of talking about what happened before the Big Bang, see Question 577 .

I have recently been reading in Richard Dawkins' book, the idea that God being both omnipotent and omniscient is a contradiction. I think it is something along the lines of: if God is omniscient then He already knows how He is going to deploy His powers, which means He is effectively bound to act in a certain way -- meaning He is not omnipotent. But I'm not sure I've totaly got my heads around the concept. Can anyone add anything more?

Many people think that God's having foreknowledge of my actions is incompatible with my acting freely. The argument you describe applies this reasoning to God Himself: His foreknowledge of His own future actions would render Him unfree. So either God is not free to do whatever He pleases (i.e., is not omnipotent) or God lacks foreknowledge. I find the original argument dubious. God's foreknowledge of my actions is not really incompatible with my freedom. For more on this, see Question 579 .

When something disastrous happens, like Katrina, "logic" says: so much the worse for a loving God. But for the believer, what comes out, instead, are things like "God never gives us more than we can handle" and "We have to praise the Lord, and thank him, that we are OK." Why? (Or is this just a psychological or sociological question? Or did I watch too much Fox news?)

Professor Andrew Dole (Department of Religion, Amherst College)kindly provides the following response to a query of Alan Soble's above: "In 1992 Plantinga wrote a ‘spiritual autobiography’, which is available online here . (I think this piece was published in Philosophers who Believe ,edited by Kelly James Clark and published by InterVarsity in 1997; butI’m not sure about that.) The piece gives a fair impression of howPlantinga would answer Alan’s question. It also contains an extendeddiscussion of Plantinga’s position (then) on the problem of evil. Thiswas a number of years ago, but I have no reason to think Plantinga haschanged his position on the relevant subjects since then. Ithink it would be fair to say that Plantinga would answer Alan’squestion as to why he believes in an omnipotent, omniscient andomnibenevolent God by pointing to his religious upbringing. That is tosay, he was raised to believe in God, and came to the ‘age of reason’with such a belief already in place. Further,...

A modernized "translation" of David Hume's Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion can also be found here .