What if?: Past viewer disproves the bible. Still believe?

That is bizarre. It took 15 minutes to load my new thread and then it didn’t post the text! Good thing I pulled an old control-c before I submitted. Here is what should have been the OP:

Say a discovery is made tomorrow that reveals that a record of everything that has happened is stored in every part of reality (a holographic universe), and we are able to build a past viewer. Let’s say the resolution is 5 million years. That is to say you can pick any point in time and space and view what was going on there at any time within the limits. You can plug in Tuesday at your house 3 years ago and see yourself doing laundry. The device works.

Now, pretty quickly they turn the device to history and religion. They are able to document and record the entire life of Jesus and everyone else in the bible. It turns out no miracles ever happened. No wine to water, no global flood, no parting of the red sea, no healing of blind people, no Adam and Eve. Some of the people in the bible were real, some were composites of many different people. Everyone turns out to be just a human, Jesus included. The viewer reveals he lived, preached, and died horribly - but was never resurrected. Human ancestry can be traced in a direct line back to more primitive primates - our ancestors.

Through much work, they are able to trace back the origins of all the stories in the bible and none of the supernatural events ever occured - all superstition and storytelling.

Now, would you still believe? It would seem a rational person would no longer accept the sentiments in that book as fact. If I can go and confirm that the device works by looking up my own history, and then look at the rest of history with the aforementioned results, then there is no reason to rationally believe any of it anymore. Of course, something tells me their are many who would not have the intellectual honesty to accept it. I can imagine several responses:

The past viewer is the work of the devil/demons!
The past viewer is a test from god - maintain belief!
All evidence is false because I FEEL god so he MUST exist despite any evidence that could be found ever!

I am interested in hearing how any rational person could maintain faith no matter how strong evidence against their religion may eventually become. I am not interested in hearing things like “Well no one will ever invent anything like that so it will never happen!” or “The past viewer WOULD find the miracles.” It’s a thought excercise, you have to take the viewer and it’s findings as a given.

For a very interesting take on the concept of past viewers read Arthur C. Clarke’s “The Light of Other Days”. When they go to do the research on Jesus they call it the 12,000 days project and 12,000 people are hired for the project. Each one gets a day of Jesus’s life to observe and document. The data is the used to create a true biography of the man who so influenced the world. Very interesting stuff. How would it work out?

DaLovin’ Dj

IANAChristian, but I think I can imagine how many of them here will respond. There’s a difference between faith in historical events and faith in a spiritual worldview, for lack of a better word. Even if no supernatural events ever happened, that doesn’t prove that God wasn’t active in the events that did happen, and that allows for a lot of faith. Granted, the lack of direct evidence for the resurrection would be hard to deal with–but then again, who is to say that the resurrected Jesus made himself visible to anyone other than the people he wanted to have see him?

Hah, you’ve finally found a way to prove those ignorant theists aren’t rational. Kudos to you dalovindj, you have done a tremendous service.

kg m²/s²

PS: As for me, I would have to drastically revise my beliefs if I learned with certainty that the tomb was not empty on Sunday morning.

Wow the premise of this thread requires a lot of faith.

As someone said before, the actual mythology is pretty irrelevant to whether or not there is a god.

What would you do if the viewer proved these events true?


So, what the question boils down to, is:

Assume that god doesn’t exist. Would you still believe?


Very nice OP, DJ.

The premise is one I’ve dealt with in my own thinking. BTW, Soup, your reduction is not accurate; it reduces more to “Assume that nothing supernatural happened; would you still believe?” The alleged events reported in the Bible prove nothing one way or the other about the existence of some god, except of course that if they were done by the God posited therein, He must therefore exist. (“Ago ergo sum” -YHWH)

However, I have already specified that my belief is not founded on Biblical stories in other recent threads. The one exception to this is my understanding that the God I know to exist is the Judeo-Christian Triune one involving an incarnation as Jesus of Nazareth. And it would depend on precisely what the time viewer showed him to be. I’m far more interested in the ideals which he taught than in the miracles he’s alleged to have performed.

The absence of the Resurrection as observed event, per the DJ OP, might prove an interesting question. However, I’ve maintained that what I believe happened was that something occurred on that first Easter Day that changed the apostles from cowardly ignorant fools to forthright fearless campaigners for the cause of Christ. The conservative and moderate wing of Christianity hold that something to be the bodily resuscitation of Jesus’s dead body – something that leads me to envision a scene that might be titled “Night of the Undead Messiah” – with a zombie Jesus lurching about, complete with stigmata. What integrating the accounts in the Gospels with Paul’s teachings suggests is that he rose as “a spiritual body” – whatever that means – neither a ghost in the traditional understanding nor a revivified physical body, but something different and beyond any other experience to describe. It’s very much worth noting that John Shelby Spong and others have described The Easter Moment (title of Spong’s book from which this is lifted) as an experience of the spirit of Christ surviving Jesus’s physical death as a courage- and hope-giving force that moved them to continue onward – “This do in remembrance of me” taken to the extreme.

I’d also love to hear what people have to say on Erek’s switch on the OP – if you don’t presently believe “all that probably legendary Bible stuff,” what if it did prove to be true? How would it affect your belief system and lifestyle?

I think I still would have to believe in God. I have never physically seen God or angels or witnessed any miracles with my own eyes, and no one has ever proven to me that God exists, but yet I still believe.

Along with mswas I’m interested to know if everything the Bible says proved to be true in the viewer, would you believe?

As I learned to my cost when I posted a particularly ill-conceived anti-religious Pit thread, the scope of religious belief, even within the same faith, is wide and varied. Many Christians already feel that the Bible (especially the OT) provides analogous fable rather than historical record. I would therefore imagine that those people, apart from being freaked out by the existence a past viewer, would not be swayed from their belief in a Christian deity and the inherent moral modus operandi.

So the real questions of the OP would be aimed at fundies. From my experience of fundies (therefore anecdotal), they would go the ‘work of Satan’, ‘test from God’ route, and obstinately maintain belief.

Conversely, I have had to conclude that, given proof of the divine, I would be a believer (in whatever religion chose to prove itself to me).

Well put, Polycarp. That would be an interesting question. It’s the one that I think I would personally have the most trouble coping with(leraning was untrue). I believe that Jesus did get up and walk away from death (but no, not bodily), and that’s a pretty big deal.

dalovindj I apologize if my initial post was snippy. I think I’m still smarting from being called “irrational” in that other thread. The past viewer doesn’t allow us to see spiritual events, does it? I mean, if Moses’s conversations with God happened internally, then we can’t see them, right? I think there’s still a lot of leeway for believers to continue believing, then.

As I mentioned before, the events surrounding Jesus’s crucifixion and ressurrection are important to my belief. If I could be present through the magic of the past viewer, I would probably find those events (whatever they were) more powerful than I can even imagine; thus strengthening my belief.

I think we’re going to have a lot of fun with the past viewer.

Newton Meter:

Not all theists are irrational. Just those who maintain beliefs in the face of contrary evidence or no evidence at all (either way). Like those who say the earth is 6000 years old. Ignorant and irrational. Like those who say there is no such thing as evolution. Ignorant and irrational.

Feeling a god and giving yourself to that is only irrational if you toss aside facts in the process. For example: “I felt god touch me so those fossils must be fake!” “I found god so there is no way we came from apes!” or, assuming the OP, “I found god so the past viewer must be false!”. Perhaps god demands these irrational leaps of faith or he will burn you horribly for eternity, but he sure is a bastard if he does and I anxiously root for his destruction at the hands of a kinder being.

However, as long as there are only personal accounts of “feelings” and a 2000 year old book that appears to be filled with stories of magic and mythology as evidence, I maintain that it is irrational to accept that this issue (is there a god) is solved.

As would any rational human.


Unless you offer the mythology as evidence to support your beliefs - then it becomes quite relevant.

I imagine my first stop would be a confessional.


More like: Assume an overwhelming amount of evidence indicates that the bible is filled with falsehoods, would you still believe in it’s integrity, it’s inability to be incorrect, and it’s status as proof of what the divine being intended?


I must say, you are probably the most reasonable theist I have ever discussed the subject with. Your posts are always a pleasure to read. You don’t seem to stop asking questions of yourself and of others. What scares me the most about religion is it’s tendency to stop the questions. The attitude that life is simple and solved may blind us to the truly mazing discoveries that await those looking for them. One should question everything I feel, and I hate to see religion diminish that in people. I appreciate your input and the positive tone in which it is given.

What I would really hope we would discover as a race were we to achieve such a thing is to put aside silly debates about old mythology, and move forward with experiments and questions to test reality and find out if there really is a god - or at the very least answer the question “What is the origin of reality?” In the end I hope there is a god, a force, an energy, a life that is greater than anything anyone has ever written or said. And I hope we can come to know this awareness through truth. Humans too often lie. To trust what has been written because it is written is to deny yourself the possibility of truth. Let us look until we know! Let us learn all reality will teach us and use it!

If through those endeavors we find no god, then perhaps we must become one. Either way, kindness and positivity are the way to go, and I think we all agree there.

DaLovin’ Dj

I won’t quibble.

Accepting all the assumptions of the OP, if the viewer showed Christ dying and not rising, I would lose my faith.

Other events (flood, miracles, creation) would be considerably less important, though not without wieght.

Oh dear. I’ll withdraw my apology then, my snippiness was warranted. Thanks for clarifying. Allow me to attempt to paraphrase the question:

“What if I turn out to be right, and you turn out to be wrong, and I find a way to rub your noses in it? BOOYA! How you like me now??!?!”

It seems to me that the third of these is very different than the first two. In the first two, there is a conflict between evidence and faith, but in the third, the conflict is between evidence and evidence.

You and I might not believe that a person truly feels God, but to the person him/herself, it is very real evidence, and so it provides a much stronger challenge to the evidence of your time-viewer than you would like to believe.

Personally, my path to belief in God has included many questions, some of them very strong. But I have persevered in trying to find answers to my questions, and have found answers to many of them. Some of them I’ve been working on for a decade or more, and eventually I do find answers. They’re not all answered yet, but when I do find an answer to something that has been bothering me for a long time, it does reassure me (no, I won’t use the word “guarantee”, but it does reassure me) that the remaining questions do have answers too.

Your time-viewer would indeed pose quite a challenge. But based on my past experiences, I would have confident that answers exist, even if I haven’t figured them out yet. A lot would depend on exactly what the viewer DOES show. Some stories might be easily reinterpreted, some might not be so easy. For example, I don’t have much trouble reinterpreting the six days of creation as six “periods” or “eons” or whatever. Of course, that might just be because such thoughts are already mainstream; I don’t know what I’d have said about carbon-14 when it was new.

dalovindj, your OP specifically asks “Now, would you still believe?” I took that to assume a belief that there is a god, not a belief in Bible infallibility.

I disagree with you here. Anything that God does would be considered “supernatural,” in every sense of the word. Thus, if nothing supernatural ever happened, we are left with two options. Either we have no god, or we have a god that sits around doing nothing. What a guy!

The OP includes not only an assumption about the non-validity of supernatural events described in the Bible, and an assumption that Jesus was not divine.

** (Italics mine.)

Both previous quotes are from the OP.

The “past viewer,” according to the OP, makes an irrevocable conclusion that Jesus is not God (assuming that the phrase “just human” implies the non-divinity of Jesus: a reasonable conclusion.) Most, if not all forms of Christianity hold that Jesus was divine. These two contentions contradict. So, if the OP’s assumptions are true, there is NO possible way for most forms Christianity to be considered valid. Thus, the OP assumes the incorrectness of Christianity. Now, because the OP has numerous references to Christianity and the works of Jesus, I can only assume that dalovindj is mainly talking about Chrisianity.

I maintain my contention that the OP asks who would believe in the Christian God if He didn’t exist.

This question assumes the previous belief in the infallibility of the Bible. As one who doesn’t believe this, I cannot make an educated response.

Now, if my logic is anywhere flawed, I would truly love to see it pointed out. I want to learn here, too.

This was actually one of the key subplots of The Light of Other Days, by Arthur C. Clarke and Stephen Baxter Not Clarke’s best work, but not bad either.


This is a great question but let me reverse it: If it could be proved that every bit of the bible was true (God exists etc), would you atheists out there believe?

It doesn’t seem a very hard question.

If somehow it could be proven that I was wrong, would I still believe? Of course not, with God’s help. :slight_smile:

I would still be a theist, but not a Christian, if someone could prove to me that the major tenets of Christianity were false. If someone could prove to me that there was no God, I would be an atheist.

Sort of reminds me of another sci-fi story, in which a Roman Catholic priest is part of a group that travels to a distant planet. They find an inhabited city, and rush towards it. On the outskirts, something is called out in a foreign language, and the priest falls down in a faint.

Upon being revived, he is asked what made him faint. He says that he heard and understood what was called out, because he studied foreign languages. “What did they call out?” he is asked.

“There is no God but Allah, and Muhammed is His prophet!”

Sounds more likely to be an example of cross-cultural contamination to me, but who can tell?

Anyway, bring on your past viewer, and we will see who really is right.


I’m an atheist, so I’m not going to answer the OP. However, I’d like to answer the question posed by a couple responses to the OP: What if the Past-Viewer[sup]TM[/sup] proved everything in the Bible correct?

If every event in the Bible were proven true, I’d believe in some God. I may, however, end up believing in a very different God than the God most modern Christians believe in. Or I may end up being Muslim. (Depends on what extra-Biblical events turn out to be true / false.) But I’d certainly believe in God.
(Making the assumption that there are no direct contradictions that would occur in such a case … )

Now, if only some of the events turned out to have happened, then I might believe in God. It depends on which events, and which aspects of them could be shown to be true or false. (As powerful as the Past-Viewer[sup]TM[/sup] is, it has limitations, as others have pointed out.)

I’m sorry, but am the only one who would think this machine is equivalent to the Babelfish from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

Jesus was the greatest Buddhist who ever lived.

I would think it would be interesting if it put all the religions in context and proved many of the miracles of ALL religions. I’d totally be watching Zeus nailing all those hot greek girls 24/7.