(Email from Anonymous) “I'm sort of in a searching, learning, limbo. I'm starting to get some opinions, but they continue to evolve and change with each new thing I learn. As of right now I would definitely not call myself a Christian. I'm sort of Deist… Maybe? Possibly Agnostic… But mostly just confused. Haha. I don't feel as though the God of the bible is true. The more I dive in, the less logical it is. My questions are basically the same that everyone who looks closely has. The problem with suffering, the errancy of the bible, certain stories just being totally too far fetched for me to accept (Noah's Ark, Garden of Eden, etc), the viciousness of God in the old testament, etc… It's nothing new I know . . . I really want to believe in God, it's such a nicer thing to think… But the whole ‘at some point you need faith’ argument doesn't hold up for me under the face of such enormous questions and contradictions . . . I am searching with pure objectivity. I just want truth, regardless of how hard the answers are to know. I guess, right now, I don't discount the possibility of a God… But I doubt highly that he is the God of the bible. It just doesn't seem like an absentee father is possible . . . One thing that is for sure… I am NOT solid on ANY of my opinions. I'm still learning/searching. The more I learn, the more I realize I know NOTHING! This is also maddening… So I am not speaking definitively at all with anything that I said above. I know nothing! It's frustrating. Haha.”
You mentioned all solid questions. I can try and take a quick stab at the ones you mentioned...
Issues of God’s Competency
Questions about suffering, why is there evil, Hell, the slaughter of the Amalekites, Old Testament (and New for that matter) severity, etc. These questions I would recommend you sidestep, not because they’re not important, but because they’re not all important. You could spend a lifetime picking up leaves or you could just cut down the tree. I would deal with the root of these and then these will become non-issues. Since none of us can be the authority on morality, the created could never judge the Creator, none of us could lay any expectation on the Holy. He defines right and wrong. And He is always right. The fact that we don’t “get it” is just another reminder about how supreme He is and how limited we are. (I have a library full of great answers to these, and it sounds like you’ve read some, but reasonable answers don’t prove that God is real, and that is more your question… if He is real, and knowable, then these are things that can be figured out or you can trust God about them.)
Issues of God’s Authority
Same type of deal with Noah's Ark, Garden of Eden, etc. I think you could wipe your brow, these aren't anything to sweat about it. If there is a God, He has all power and can do whatever He likes. Nothing is too hard for Him. Miracles aren’t tough for an omnipotent creator. He made… matter, everything from nothing. The fact that we have difficulty imagining a man being eaten/vomited by a fish doesn’t make it a non-truth, it makes it a miracle. If God is real He sure can break the laws of creation He set in motion and do such.
Issues of God’s Truth
This is the biggie. In my mind this is the only question I personally would concern myself with. All of the other questions man can come up with will hinge on the answer to this one. Can you know that Jesus is the true path to God? If you can say with certainty that He is then all your other issues dissolve. The things you don’t understand don’t make you forget what you do understand. If Jesus is God revealed in the flesh and thus everything He said is true, then the urgent issue shifts to repenting and following Him.
As far as empirical proof, instead of looking for a DVD of God's greatest hits (which would be cool to see!), I'd think of it more like a court room. In any given court case there are pieces of evidence submitted for the juries consideration and final deliberation. None of the jurors were there. They didn’t “see” anything. Based on all the evidence they come to a final verdict. My question would be what does the evidence point to.
1) The Law. See www.NeedGod.com for more. It will hammer you. This rocked my heart.
2) The Prophets. This is what intellectually convinced me that Jesus is the Savior. The predictions made hundreds of years before His birth (already in the Jewish scriptures which were translated into Greek in the Septuagint before Jesus’ birth) that give precise details of the coming Savior, which Jesus all profoundly fulfilled (and no one else came close to). This rocked my intellect.
The Law showed me I was a rat and needed forgiveness. The Prophets gave supernatural evidence that Jesus is the way God reached out to humanity to make that forgiveness available.
The Bible. The Bible can be scientifically proven to be God’s supernatural book for mankind—there is plenty of evidence. There are 4 keys I’ve come across to scientifically, rationally, and logically prove the Bible as God’s infallible word to His creation. The keys to proving the Bible as God’s word are:
1) Historically – It all really happened. Archeology has given evidence of that.
2) Doctrinally – It all agrees with itself. There are no doctrinal (teaching) contradictions in Scripture.
3) Preservationally – It is the same today as the day it was written. This is easily proven by comparing our modern Bible text with preserved ancient Bible text, such as the Dead Sea Scrolls and the multitudes of other early biblical documentation – they match each other.
4) Prophetically – The Bible contains scientific and medical foreknowledge, precise event predictions, and messianic prophecies.
A terrific resource I highly recommend on the subject of Bible apologetics is The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel. It is a highly enjoyable read with illuminating insight into the divine inspiration of the Scriptures. The book is liberally sprinkled with head on confrontations with many of the leading objections raised about the Bible (with compelling responses to those objections). For a well-assembled informational textbook reference I recommend The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict by Josh McDowell. Ray has also written a few books on the subject about Bible evidences/atheism that I could send you if you’re interested.