Alice and Bob worship Theo, a theistic god. Their revered book, “The Revelation of Theo,” was written and compiled 1919 years ago by Theo’s early followers and has many amazing accounts of the miracles performed in Theo’s name. This includes the wonderful story of Theo’s representative on Earth, Jose, who swam up what is now called Victoria Falls, in order to demonstrate the great power of Theo to release the people from the net of transgressions that bind them.
Alice and Bob are well aware that there are many religious writings from other faiths with equally amazing accounts. These writings come before, during and after the time of the writing of “The Revelation of Theo.” They are also aware that other believers point to their respective writings as evidence for their own faiths. However, these writings are in direct opposition to their own sacred book, “The Revelation of Theo,” and cannot be harmonized.
Alice and Bob are smart and well educated in history, ancient writings and languages. They want to apply an accurate and principled historical standard to review the sacred writings of others and crucially, to use the same standard on their sacred book to show that Theo is the one true God.
- What would the historical standard look like?
- What standard do you use when evaluating religious claims?
- Does the standard rule out the miracle stories of other faiths?
- Do you apply the standard equally to your own sacred writings?
- How would you use this standard to disprove the miracle of Jose swimming up Victoria Falls, while simultaneously proving the miracles from your preferred ancient text?
Use the following statements to complete the question:
Would you be more or less inclined to believe in Theo …
- If the story of Jose included 707 eye witnesses testimonies?
- If the story of Jose indicated there was no water at Victoria Falls before this miracle and now there demonstratively is?
- If the early followers of Theo were persecuted even to death by their neighbors and yet kept the faith?
- If we currently had tens of thousands of partial pieces of copies of “The Revelation of Theo” from two to three hundred years after its initial writing?
- If the first independent historical reference to Jose was written 103 years later?
- If there were 3.1 billion followers of Theo today?
- Is it wise, even in principle, to use ancient texts as evidence for supernatural miracles?
This post is in the series Thought Experiments for Believers.