What do you think of Dr. Lydia McGrew’s Elevator Pitch for the Resurrection?

Dr. Lydia McGrew is a renowned Christian apologist and philosopher, who surely needs no introduction to viewers of this blog. Recently, she released her Elevator Pitch for the Resurrection of Jesus on Cameron Bertuzzi’s Youtube channel, Capturing Christianity. Here it is:

(For the benefit of viewers, I should explain that Dr. Lydia McGrew suffers from severe back pain.)

I decided to post a short six-minute reply, summarizing and rebutting her case. I conclude that the Resurrection of Jesus is something that believers have to take on faith. What do you think?

Here’s my transcript.

Hello everyone. Recently, acclaimed Christian apologist Dr. Lydia McGrew released her Elevator Pitch for the Resurrection of Jesus on Cameron Bertuzzi’s Youtube channel, “Capturing Christianity.” Today, I’d like to explain why an honest seeker after truth might not find Dr. McGrew’s Elevator Pitch convincing. Without further ado, here it is.

First, the disciples claimed, as we find in the Gospels, that they had lengthy conversations with Jesus after he died, that the had the ability to touch him, that he ate with them on more than one occasion, and that he stayed with them for several weeks. This is what the people who were in an original position to know claimed.

Second, the fact that they were risking their lives, as narrated in the Acts of the Apostles, shows that they were not lying.

Third, the fact that they interacted with Jesus in multiple ways – seeing him, hearing him and touching him – shows it’s very unlikely that they were mistaken.

Finally, the best explanation of what they claimed is that they were telling the truth.

So what’s wrong with this case? The hidden assumption in Dr. Lydia McGrew’s Elevator Pitch for the Resurrection is that the Gospels accurately record what the disciples claimed. In fact, none of the Gospels claims to have been written by a disciple who actually saw the risen Jesus. Only one Gospel – the Gospel of John – claims to have been written by people who knew one of the disciples who saw Jesus and who wrote down what he saw. However, we don’t know which disciple it was, or who the people who knew him were, and we don’t have his original account.

What about about Luke’s Gospel? Well, Luke doesn’t claim to have spoken to eyewitnesses to Jesus’ appearances. His Gospel merely claims to be a carefully investigated record of Jesus’ life, and to be familiar with other accounts of his life. Matthew and Mark don’t claim to be based on eyewitness reports, either.

Now, if the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ resurrection appearances were quite similar to one another, like the four Gospel accounts of the feeding of the 5,000, we might suspect that they were based on a shared recollection. But they aren’t. In fact, the only thing about the appearances that the Gospels all agree on is that Jesus appeared to Peter and the other disciples (“the Eleven”) somewhere, and sent them out to preach. (Mark’s Gospel doesn’t describe this appearance, but implies its occurrence in chapter 16, verse 7.) And that’s it. On every other point, the Gospel accounts diverge.

Given that the Gospels were written at least three decades after Jesus’ resurrection appearances, by unknown individuals who failed to record a single eyewitness report of these appearances by an identified individual, it’s reasonable for someone to doubt whether the disciples who saw the risen Jesus all saw the same thing, or conversed with him at length, or touched him and ate with him. And without these facts, you cannot establish the resurrection of Jesus. You have to take it on faith. Thank you.

78 thoughts on “What do you think of Dr. Lydia McGrew’s Elevator Pitch for the Resurrection?

  1. keiths: Christian theology is an exercise in contortion — taking things that don’t cohere and twisting and forcing them into an unnatural fit. The Trinity, in particular, creates all sorts of problems. Jesus prays to the Father throughout the gospels, meaning that if trinitarianism is correct, God prayed to himself on all of those occasions. Worse still, when Jesus prays to the Father in the Garden of Gethsemane, he says “not my will, but thine, be done”. The Son’s will differs from the Father’s, meaning that God’s will is not God’s will. Or alternatively, that there is no such thing as God’s will (singular), but God instead has at least two and maybe three wills. Multiple personality disorder.

    Multiple personalities is what the trinity doctrine is explicitly about: Three persons in one being. Additionally human nature versus divine nature in Jesus etc. It is easy to joke about it on physicalist/empiricist grounds, but in e.g. psychology it is normal to analyse human individuals in terms of contradictory ideas, desires, and wills that everybody must reconcile in oneself day in day out. If you cannot do it, personality disorders and other psychological pathologies come to surface.

    If you don’t appreciate psychology, then of course it all looks like a contortion. And of course psychological truths can be noted in scriptures without any recourse to trinity as well. Anyway, just my two cents, or maybe a penny.

  2. Psychologically speaking, it’s not uncommon for people to hear voices nobody else can hear. What people attribute those voices to says something about them, but nothing about the voices. Christians think it’s their god, but others attribute the voices to neighbors, ancestors, famous historical personalities, or even brain pathology. “Listening to god” is no more or less religious than the listener wants it to be.

  3. keiths:

    It is possible to listen to God, if he speaks, while still being an atheist — that is, without knowing or believing (yet) that it is God who is speaking.

    Erik:

    If you know what listen means, then no, it’s not possible to listen to God and not know it was God.

    To listen to someone is to pay attention to their words and try to understand what they are saying. This can certainly be done even when you don’t know who is speaking.

    If you were correct, then it would be impossible to listen to even a single word of God’s without instantly being aware that it was he who was speaking. That seems silly to me. I can listen to a word spoken by a human without being instantly aware of who they are. Why should it be different with God?

    If you don’t know, then you are not sure what you heard and also cannot be sure whether to listen.

    I don’t need to know who is speaking before I decide whether to listen. If someone says “Hey, Keith…”, then I will listen to them even if I don’t recognize the voice or otherwise know who they are.

    You can of course act as if you knew that it was God who spoke to you, but then you would definitely not be acting as an atheist.

    Or you could reason quite rationally along the following lines: I don’t think that God exists, so it seems unlikely (but not impossible) that the message I’m receiving is from him. I’ll listen to what is said, and perhaps upon further consideration I will be able to decide whether it is from God, or someone else, or even no one at all (i.e. a hallucination).

    In other words, it is quite possible to listen to God without knowing that it is God you are listening to.

  4. Erik:

    There’s the doctrine of smaller fulfillment and bigger fulfillment in Christian theology.

    Which is an attempt to rationalize the failures of prophecy. A classic example is the desire of Christians to see Isaiah 7:14 as a prophecy concerning Jesus:

    Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.

    Read in context, that verse is clearly not about Jesus — it’s about near-term events in the time of Isaiah. Instead of accepting that, (some) Christians argue that although the prophecy refers to near-term events, it was also intended to refer to something that happened hundreds of years later — specifically, the birth of Jesus.

    Which is ridiculous. If a competent God wanted his prophet to foretell distinct events separated by hundreds of years, the words he put in the prophet’s mouth would reflect that rather than seeming to be about the earlier event only.

    Only via a strained, post hoc rationalization can one portray Isaiah 7:14 as being about Jesus.

    (I haven’t even touched on the fact that the story of Jesus’s virgin birth was a fabrication based on a mistranslation of that verse in Isaiah.)

  5. Erik:

    Multiple personalities is what the trinity doctrine is explicitly about: Three persons in one being.

    I don’t think most Christians would be comfortable with the idea that there’s no such thing as God’s will (singular), or God’s knowledge.

    And if the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit have different personalities, wills, and states of knowledge, why insist that they are one God? As far as I can tell, the Trinity was invented only because Christians wanted to regard Jesus as fully divine, while at the same time not wanting to abandon monotheism.

    In other words, the incoherent doctrine of the Trinity is what happens when you try to force-fit a divine Son into a monotheistic framework where the God-slot is already occupied by God the Father. Which leads to absurdities like God praying to himself, or torturing himself to death in order to placate himself into forgiving the poor souls who live under him.

  6. keiths: In other words, the incoherent doctrine of the Trinity is what happens when you try to force-fit a divine Son into a monotheistic framework where the God-slot is already occupied by God the Father. Which leads to absurdities like God praying to himself, or torturing himself to death in order to placate himself into forgiving the poor souls who live under him.

    It’s an absurdity when you ignore other truths and facts that operate on an analogous basis. I already spelled them out above.

    But here’s a real absurdity for you: You, ostensibly an atheist, are prescribing theology to God and to believers. Isn’t it absurd to prescribe features for that which does not exist? What’s your preoccupation with what does not exist according to you? Either you are more like a puzzled seeker who cannot make head or tail of things or more like an anti-theist.

    To Vincent: See why theology is important. Instead of trying to explain resurrection without scripture, it is important to have a scripturally grounded theology that has some chance of explaining what resurrection was and why it had to happen. Otherwise you have nothing of interest to say to atheists, also nothing of interest to say to other theists.

  7. Erik:

    But here’s a real absurdity for you: You, ostensibly an atheist, are prescribing theology to God and to believers. Isn’t it absurd to prescribe features for that which does not exist?

    I don’t see anything as being prescribed. Educated people see actual value in education, and would like to see everyone educated. They are, for the most part, concerned about what doesn’t exist, like knowledge and critical thinking. Keiths isn’t a puzzled seeker, he’s someone who can recognize magical thinking, superstition, and fabrication when he sees it. You wallow in it. Rather than recognize ignorance with an eye to correcting it, you seem to want more of it, and look down your nose at those not suffering the same psychological pathology you seem so proud of.

  8. Erik:

    It’s an absurdity when you ignore other truths and facts that operate on an analogous basis. I already spelled them out above.

    Presumably you mean this:

    Multiple personalities is what the trinity doctrine is explicitly about: Three persons in one being.

    If the Father’s will is distinct from the Son’s will, and if the Father’s knowledge is distinct from the Son’s and the Holy Spirit’s knowledge, then why regard them as one being? Why not treat them as three separate beings? As I’ve already mentioned, the only reason I know of — and it’s a poor one — is that Christians want to put the Son on an equal footing with the Father without violating their prior commitment to monotheism. Are you aware of any other reasons for postulating a Trinity?

    But here’s a real absurdity for you: You, ostensibly an atheist, are prescribing theology to God and to believers.

    Pointing out the absurdity and incoherence of the Trinity hardly amounts to “prescribing theology”. In advising believers to reject the Trinity, I am not in the slightest endorsing a non-trinitarian theology. Christian theology is a mess, and the problems extend far beyond the Trinity.

    Isn’t it absurd to prescribe features for that which does not exist?

    Ditto.

    What’s your preoccupation with what does not exist according to you?

    My interest is in how people come to believe things that make no sense or are unsupported by the evidence. (I’m not exempting myself here; I used to be a Christian.) For instance, I’m interested in people’s weird beliefs about the “stolen” 2020 election, despite the fact that such thievery clearly never took place. I’m curious about the tenets of the John Frum cargo cult, despite not believing any of it. Why should I not have a similar interest in Christian theology?

    Either you are more like a puzzled seeker who cannot make head or tail of things or more like an anti-theist.

    I’m pro-truth, which I guess makes me anti-Christian, anti-John Frum, anti-QAnon, and anti-a-million-other-belief-systems-that-don’t-make-sense.

  9. keiths:
    My interest is in how people come to believe things that make no sense or are unsupported by the evidence. (I’m not exempting myself here; I used to be a Christian.)

    I find this hard to believe, at least at face value. My understanding is that impenetrable belief is instilled very early in life, perhaps not perhaps past the age of 4 or 5. Anything learned after no later than age 7, at least from my reading, is (like your “Christianity”) subject to evaluation and perhaps rejection.

    Then again, I’ve also read that True Believers, whose belief is impervious to evidence or logic, are sometimes able to be deprogrammed when they are faced with the obvious personal imperfections of cult leaders. The pedophile priests did more damage to the Catholic church than the Russians making the church illegal. I understand that Trump’s cult worshipers only become more devout with each impeachment, indictment, or conviction. Trump realizes this, realizes that admitting to any of his crimes would deprogram his worshipers.

    So how did you become deconverted? Or were you never a sincere True Believer?

  10. keiths: As I’ve already mentioned, the only reason I know of — and it’s a poor one — is that Christians want to put the Son on an equal footing with the Father without violating their prior commitment to monotheism. Are you aware of any other reasons for postulating a Trinity?

    Do not disagree, that is an explanation for Jesus getting a promotion to Supreme Being . But that workaround does not explain the point of creating another fictional member of the Trinity , The Holy Ghost. Three Gods more believable than two or four? For me ,once you accept an all knowing ,all powerful ,all good ,eternal ,immaterial deity , anything is possible.

  11. Flint: The pedophile priests did more damage to the Catholic church than the Russians making the church illegal.

    Like most things it was the coverup that did the most damage . The Church put its reputation above the safety of children , over and over again, instead of addressing the problem. Personally , the Church’s stance on birth control was the bridge too far.

  12. Flint: Rather than recognize ignorance with an eye to correcting it, you seem to want more of it, and look down your nose at those not suffering the same psychological pathology you seem so proud of.

    Why should I make it my personal task to educate Keiths? Particularly when he does not want to and when there are plenty of others to perpetuate his ignorance, as not too long ago seen in the artificial intelligence thread. Keiths is not the product of me. He was already here along with you when I arrived.

    Magical thinking on magical topics is quite appropriate, I’d say. Magical thinking regarding physical things like computers is rather inappropriate, but proliferates among atheists and knows no bounds.

    By the way, if I am wrong here, then why not accuse Keiths of failing to educate me?

  13. velikovskys: Like most things it was the coverup that did the most damage . TheChurch put its reputation above the safety of children , over and over again, instead of addressing the problem.

    The way I see it, all the Church has is reputation. People contribute their time and money out of a belief that the Church saves souls and does good deeds. If people start to realize that it does neither, it’s in trouble.

  14. Erik: Why should I make it my personal task to educate Keiths? Particularly when he does not want to and when there are plenty of others to perpetuate his ignorance, as not too long ago seen in the artificial intelligence thread. Keiths is not the product of me. He was already here along with you when I arrived.

    That’s just what I was doing! YOU are braying ignorance, to the point where you can’t even understand the point of a very direct post. Willful blindness.

    Magical thinking on magical topics is quite appropriate, I’d say. Magical thinking regarding physical things like computers is rather inappropriate, but proliferates among atheists and knows no bounds.

    Huh? You regard reality as magical and superstition as desirable? Really? And you expect sensible people to be persuaded, on a forum dedicated to common sense? “I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible that you may be mistaken” is a cry in your wilderness.

    By the way, if I am wrong here, then why not accuse Keiths of failing to educate me?

    Sure. You make it apparent that nobody on earth can educate you. Keiths is using you as Exhibit A of what religion does to what might have been an otherwise serviceable brain. I don’t think he has any expectation of penetrating your delusions – you have amply demonstrated this impossibility with respect to elections as well as religion. But others can learn from your determination to fail.

  15. Flint:

    So how did you become deconverted? Or were you never a sincere True Believer?

    I was absolutely a True Believer, so much so that toward the end of my confirmation class (a yearlong class, taught during the 8th grade, which prepared kids to become full-fledged members of the church), my pastor asked me to consider whether God was calling me to the ministry. And this was in a church (the Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod) that hewed to biblical inerrancy and strict creationism.

    It was around that time, ironically, that I inadvertently took the first steps toward my eventual deconversion. A smart Mormon kid moved into the neighborhood, and we became friends. We liked arguing with each other, and we took our faiths seriously, so our religious differences were a natural topic for dispute. I did a pretty good job of poking holes in his Mormonism, but I became uncomfortably aware that many of my arguments, with a few tweaks, could be deployed with equal effect against my own faith. That bothered me a lot, and it got me into the habit of testing my beliefs against my own best counterarguments. That was something I hadn’t done a lot of before meeting my friend.

    I’m pretty sure I would have deconverted eventually even if I hadn’t met him, but I credit our discussions for starting me on the path to apostasy a little earlier than might otherwise have happened.

    I just might look him up and say hi. He was named after an LDS apostle, so he has a distinctive first name, and that will make him easier to track down online.

  16. velikovskys:

    Do not disagree, that is an explanation for Jesus getting a promotion to Supreme Being . But that workaround does not explain the point of creating another fictional member of the Trinity , The Holy Ghost.

    True, and I’m not altogether sure why the Holy Spirit was admitted into the club. My best guess is that it was because Jesus instructed his disciples to baptize people “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”, which could be construed as putting the Spirit on an equal footing with the Father and the Son.

  17. Erik:

    Magical thinking on magical topics is quite appropriate, I’d say.

    Which is why it makes perfect sense to believe that the Easter Bunny is magically able to distribute eggs to millions of children in a single night. Take that, doubters!

    By the way, if I am wrong here, then why not accuse Keiths of failing to educate me?

    I might have more success with a willing student who was less prone to magical thinking.

  18. keiths: I did a pretty good job of poking holes in his Mormonism, but I became uncomfortably aware that many of my arguments, with a few tweaks, could be deployed with equal effect against my own faith. That bothered me a lot, and it got me into the habit of testing my beliefs against my own best counterarguments. That was something I hadn’t done a lot of before meeting my friend.

    Thanks. Interesting story. It also starts me wondering why I have such a visceral reaction against devout belief in what I regard as nonsense. I really had no exposure to religion as a child – my family didn’t attend any church and regarded prayers as irrelevant. As I recall, neither religion nor prayer was ever introduced into any household conversation. Indeed, I only met Believers after I got out of the Army, and it took me years to grasp that they actually believed that crap! Even today, I would expect your experience to be more normal. Do people like Erik really construct their lives around figments of someone else’s imagination?

  19. Flint: I only met Believers after I got out of the Army, and it took me years to grasp that they actually believed that crap!

    If true, this explains (and makes forgivable) your deep cluelessness.

    Most believers are ordinary people like yourself. They grow up in their environment where everybody goes to church, or at least where those who go to church are held in prestige. They have little reason to question those “beliefs” which are actually just habitual practices. Then they may or may not meet an atheist and are very perplexed how anybody can believe differently from themselves. Just like you.

    Then there are those who attempt to question the system or consider alternatives. Depending on the depth of their understanding, the result is either a stronger system or ruins. To argue for or against anything or anyone, there has to be a system, a logic, better still a metaphysics.

    I grew up in a very different environment. Religion was committed to the fringes of society Most foreign denominations were outlawed, some operated underground. I became interested in religion because it seemed to have been part of normal history, but was then forbidden and illegal. I wanted to know what motivates people even when their lives are threatened, something comparable to Christians of the first few centuries. And now I know.

  20. keiths: If the Father’s will is distinct from the Son’s will, and if the Father’s knowledge is distinct from the Son’s and the Holy Spirit’s knowledge, then why regard them as one being? Why not treat them as three separate beings? As I’ve already mentioned, the only reason I know of — and it’s a poor one — is that Christians want to put the Son on an equal footing with the Father without violating their prior commitment to monotheism. Are you aware of any other reasons for postulating a Trinity?

    This seems a bit odd to me. Granted, I wasn’t raised as a Christian and don’t identify as one now, but from the little bit of Christian theology I’ve read, I’m not sure that the Trinity entails that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit have distinct knowledge and will.

    As I understood it, the Trinity consists of three persons in the old sense of “dramatis personae”: each has a distinct role to play in the unfolding of divine revelation as that intersects with human history. The Father plays the role of lawgiver for post-Deluge humanity in general and for the ancient Israelite people in particular. The Son is a new revelation of the divine presence, not through a text or a temple but through a living human being. This person announces the overcoming of the law and the call for a new way of relating to God through the Son. The Holy Spirit is how God reveals his presence to the community of faithful after the Son’s temporal existence has ended.

    It’s not clear to me that distinct dramatis personae entails that each has distinct knowledge and will.

    (Of course it’s true that in the New Testament, Jesus repeatedly says that there are things he doesn’t know but that God does know. This is a symptom of a more general problem, that the doctrine of the Trinity was unknown to the authors of the Gospels or to Paul. It was invented after the fact, for other reasons — perhaps in part to make Christianity equally attractive to both monotheistic and polytheistic converts? I don’t know.)

  21. Erik: If true, this explains (and makes forgivable) your deep cluelessness.

    But you have made it clear that you believe even atheists believe in your god and simply can’t admit it to themselves. You find it incomprehensible for anyone NOT to believe in your god, so you believe they must despite all evidence.

    I have given a great deal of thought to religion, to the point where I now accept that some people actually DO believe that crap, and that they are not only helpless to realize otherwise, they LIKE believing crap. It’s common that the insane consider everone else to be deluded.

    But I understand that the “imaginary god” hypothesis is far and away the best fit for all real-world evidence. To the point where there simply is no valid evidence of anyone’s imaginary gods, outside their own minds.

  22. Kantian Naturalist: [The doctrine of the Trinity] was invented after the fact, for other reasons — perhaps in part to make Christianity equally attractive to both monotheistic and polytheistic converts? I don’t know.

    The doctrine took definite shape during the Arian controversy. The controversy may have been more about politics (Arius was more effective at getting his own bishops appointed) than about theology. However, the theological difference was clearly there and Arius’s project of rewriting the scriptural canon was also a factor. Modern Unitarians tend to paint the character of Arius favourably.

  23. KN:

    This seems a bit odd to me. Granted, I wasn’t raised as a Christian and don’t identify as one now, but from the little bit of Christian theology I’ve read, I’m not sure that the Trinity entails that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit have distinct knowledge and will.

    If asked, I think most Christians would tell you that the trinitarian God possesses a unitary will and unitary knowledge. They certainly don’t hesitate to talk about God’s will in the singular, and they take omniscience to be a characteristic of all three persons of the Trinity. However, that’s only because it hasn’t occurred to them that Jesus’s own words, as recorded in the gospels, rule that out:

    Distinct wills:

    He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”

    Luke 22:41-42, NIV

    Distinct knowledge:

    32 “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.

    Mark 13:32, NIV

    Some address this by arguing that Jesus voluntarily and temporarily declined to exercise some of his divine attributes while on earth, but that doesn’t really solve the problem. I’ll say more on this later today when I have time.

  24. Here’s what’s wrong with the thesis that Jesus voluntarily chose not to exercise all of his divine attributes while on earth, and that this accounts for the fact that the Father was aware of something that Jesus was not — namely, the timing of the Second Coming:

    1. Omniscience is supposed to be one of God’s essential attributes. Therefore, if Jesus was actually God, he must have known when he would return to earth — but that contradicts his own words.

    2. If he were somehow able to “deactivate” his omniscience for a period of time, then he would necessarily cease to be God during that time. (A couple of interesting asides: if he ceased to be God, would he then lose the power to restore his divinity? Having gotten himself into the hole, would he therefore be unable to get back out? Would the Father or the Holy Spirit have the power to restore his full divinity, including his omniscience? Presumably they would, given that omnipotence is another of God’s essential attributes.)

    3. In order for Jesus’s statement to be correct — that no one but the Father knows the day and hour of his return — the Holy Spirit must also be (or have been) unaware, and therefore must have performed the same “deactivation” of omniscience on itself, but why? In the case of Jesus, there is at least some motivation, albeit implausible, for deactivation — but why would the Holy Spirit follow suit?

    4. The deactivation thesis doesn’t address the problem of Jesus having a distinct will from the Father. Are we to suppose that Jesus also had the ability to temporarily decouple his will from the Father’s and the Holy Spirit’s? And that he chose to do so? Why? How would that work, exactly? In what sense was he still God if even his will didn’t align with the Father’s?

    5. The deactivation thesis is awkward and contrived, and only arises because of the insistence that Jesus was God. Far more reasonable and straightforward to accept that Jesus wasn’t on an equal footing with the Father. If so, it makes perfect sense that he might not be omniscient. Jesus himself doesn’t claim to be God anywhere in the synoptic gospels*, and he clearly doesn’t see himself as a peer of the Father. Not only do his knowledge and will differ from the Father’s, but he also prays to the Father. Then there’s this:

    A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
    “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone.”
    Luke 18:18-19, NIV

    Separate will, separate knowledge, prays to the Father, says that only the Father is good — all of that points to the fact that Jesus didn’t think he was God.

    *Jesus does claim to be God in the Gospel of John, but John was written last and is the least reliable of the gospels. It’s completely implausible that Jesus claimed to be God, but that Matthew, Mark, and Luke didn’t think that was important enough to mention.

  25. keiths: 2. If he were somehow able to “deactivate” his omniscience for a period of time, then he would necessarily cease to be God during that time

    Surely an omniscient being knows how it feels to lack omniscience, right? Else humans would know something God does not.

  26. velikovskys:

    Surely an omniscient being knows how it feels to lack omniscience, right? Else humans would know something God does not.

    Yes, but I would argue that an omniGod could know how it would feel to lack omniscience without ever actually experiencing a lack of omniscience. Omniscience doesn’t depend on learning or experience.* All the knowledge is there from the get-go.

    Another argument could be that omniscience is limited in the same way as omnipotence. Despite its name, theologians don’t take omnipotence to be the ability to do literally anything. Some things are logically impossible, and God’s inability to do them is not regarded as counting against omnipotence.

    You can reason analogously with regard to omniscience. If it turned out to be logically impossible for God to know how a lack of omniscience would feel without experiencing such a lack himself, then that would not count against omniscience.

    Humans can do things that an omnipotent God cannot, such as failing to solve a math problem despite trying their best. Just as this doesn’t count against God’s omnipotence, it wouldn’t count against God’s omniscience if humans could know something it is logically impossible for God to know.

    *I suppose you could construct a theology in which God isn’t omniscient to begin with but instead achieves omniscience at some point in time via learning, but that isn’t the Christian God.

  27. Hi everyone,

    Off to work in a second, but regarding the Trinity, the Catholic Church has always taught that the three persons of the Trinity have one Mind and one Will. The Othodox Church teaches likewise, as this link reveals:

    Therefore, while being one in what they are; the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are Three in who they are. And because of what and who they are—namely, uncreated, divine persons—they are undivided and perfectly united in their timeless, spaceless, sizeless, shapeless super-essential existence, as well as in their one divine life, knowledge, love, goodness, power, will, action, etc.

    There was a heretic named John Philoponus who taught that the three persons were one in nature in the same sense that Tom, Dick and Harry are one in nature (being all human). This view was rightly condemned as tritheism.

    Interestingly, William Lane Craig thinks the three persons have three distinct rational faculties (i.e. three minds), while sharing a common soul or principle of life. Such a view is deeply puzzling, since for God, what it means to be alive is simply to have (or rather be) a Mind. I don’t see how Craig (and his modern followers) can avoid the charge of tritheism. Got to run now. Cheers.

    P.S. I do acknowledge that John 17:3 and Lk. 18:18-19 pose a severe difficulty for orthodox Trinitarianism. More later.

  28. Vincent:

    Interestingly, William Lane Craig thinks the three persons have three distinct rational faculties (i.e. three minds), while sharing a common soul or principle of life.

    By itself, the idea that the separate divine persons have separate minds makes perfect sense. We’d say the same thing about separate human persons, after all. The problem lies in trying to reconcile the separate minds with monotheism. As you point out, the existence of three minds suggests tritheism, not monotheism.

    But it’s awkward either way. Three separate minds clashes with the idea of one God, but one mind clashes with the idea of three persons. Trinitarianism is a mess.

    It would be so much cleaner if Christians would just say “wow — all that time people thought there was only one God, but whaddaya know — there are actually three!

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