“…the Bible also says there was a talking snake…”
In Genesis 3:4 Satan, in the form of a snake, dialogues with Eve and convinces her to eat the fruit from the tree. This of course leads to the downfall of man, and the reality of original sin.
Mr. Wilson is attempting to make an argument against Christianity; an argument I have detailed in more depth here (should any reader wish for a fuller explanation). Basically the argument is saying that the Bible mentions all sorts of absurd things, like talking snakes, miracles and so forth, and therefore has no place in discussions on contemporary issues like homosexuality etc. Well, is Wilson right?
First off, I don’t believe in such a woodenly literal interpretation of Genesis whereby a snake actually spoke, nor do I believe that some magical fruit from a tree cursed mankind. It is my view that the narrative is simply describing realities (man’s fall, original sin, the need for God’s saving grace) in a way that we can understand it, as well as the audience of the original author (Moses) at the time. Of course I could say much, much more, but that would suffice in dispelling Wilson’s notion of the talking snake – to me it is a strawman argument. But if Wilson knew a little bit more about his Bible then he would probably be using Balaam’s donkey as a more apt example, among other things.
Why doesn’t Wilson just throw in the absurdities of God dividing an ocean for his people to pass through (Exodus 14:21), or a burning bush that doesn’t get consumed (Exodus 3:3), Manna falling from heaven to feed the wandering Israelites (Exodus 16), water sprouting from a rock (Numbers 20:7-11), the sun and moon being stilled in battle (Joshua 10:12-14), Samson’s supernatural strength (Judges 14-16), Daniel being saved from lions (Daniel 6:16-23), Jonah being swallowed by a fish (Jonah 2:1-10)? There are so many, why does Wilson neglect these? Probably because he has never read a Bible in his life, and is instead reciting what he heard from someone else (that to me is weak when dealing with worldviews, at least look into things yourself). The fact is that there are a lot of obvious supernatural events that occur in the Bible. So let’s assist Wilson in his attempt to undermine our faith, and use Balaam’s taking donkey as an example.
Basically what happens is that Balaam smacks his donkey three times with a staff. He smacks it because it stops trotting after being blocked by an angel with a sword. However, Balaam cannot see the angel, but the donkey can and thus it becomes frightened, and ends up lying down on the path. After Balaam hits it, God opens the donkey’s mouth to speak: “the LORD opened the donkey’s mouth, and she said to Balaam, ‘What have I done to you to make you beat me these three times?’” (Numbers 22:28).
So basically Wilson would say “Come on! Isn’t that just stupid? Obviously donkeys can’t talk. Christianity is so stupid!”
Well, obviously Wilson and co. forgot the qualifier “the LORD opened the donkey’s mouth…” So, is Wilson suggesting God, an all-powerful being who can do anything he pleases (Jeremiah 32:27), can’t make a donkey speak if that is what he prepares it to do? Is Wilson suggesting that the God of the Bible, who made the entire universe from nothing (Genesis 1:1), and made it in quicker time than it takes for me to butter a slice of bread, cannot do such a simple task? When one considers these questions then to doubt God’s ability to perform such a simple task appears arrogant.
If Wilson wants to convince me that my view is illogical because God cannot do miracles then he would need to: 1) Make an actual argument with a logical conclusion, and not merely assert a position. 2) Prove to me why such a task is impossible for the God of the Bible. 3) And then prove how this nullifies Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. 4) Explain the abundant evidence for miracle healings performed in the name of Jesus today (see Craig Keener, Miracles). Neither of these he does.
Thirdly, assuming Wilson is a nonbeliever, I’d like to ask him how he explains his set of miracles: 1) The beginning of a universe from nothing. 2) Getting conscious life from inorganic materials. 3) Getting order from chaos. 4) Getting the immaterial from physical matter. 5) I’d also like to ask if he has a better historical explanation that explains the minimal facts to Jesus’ resurrection. Probably not. However, who does Wilson appeal to in order to explain his miracles? On my worldview God exists, but what about Wilson’s worldview?
Fourthly, even if I grant Wilson the benefit of the doubt that an all-powerful God cannot do a miracle by making a mere donkey speak, it just doesn’t follow that Christianity is false. Jesus’ resurrection is the central facet of my faith, not whether a donkey spoke because God wanted it speak. Therefore, again we can say that his comment does not touch upon the truth claims of Christianity.
“Christians are all against gay marriage…”
This is a false statement. Not all Christians are against gay marriage, in fact, there are Christians who argue for the compatibility of gay marriage and Christianity. A notable activist would be Matthew Vines who argues for this position. However, I view homosexual marriage as incompatible with my faith, and this is suggested at least seven or eight times in scripture.
“Never seen a talking snake…”
I already gave my view on the “talking snake” above, so let’s use a talking donkey instead. Well, Wilson, I’d be hard stretched to say that I’ve ever seen a talking donkey. I’ve never seen a man’s cancerous brain tumour heal instantly after prayer like my lecturer/pastor has (who actually prayed over the man). I’ve never been an eyewitness to demon possession like my pastor, and two friends have. I am also not one of the 562 South Korean Christians who claimed to witness miraculous healings (Kwon, ‘Foundations.’), or like the other 202,141,082 people from 10 countries alone that claimed to be witness to miraculous healings (Keener, ‘Miracles.’). It is indisputable on historical grounds that Jesus was a miracle healer and worker, but I never got to see him in action. Does the fact that I haven’t been a witness to any of these things mean that they never occurred? Of course not, and this would suggest that Wilson’s argument is built on an a prior rejection of miracles and/or God’s existence, and thus can be dismissed.
I’d encourage Wilson, or any atheist out there to answer/challenge any of those four points I made above. Other than that I don’t think much of an argument was forwarded by Wilson, and his entire comment can be classified as an a prior rejection of miracles, and/or God’s existence. If he can demonstrate why God cannot make any animal speak should he want it to, then we can talk (no pun intended, of course).