The God Challenge
As we all know, many challenges have been set forth by both sides of the theistic debate. Dan Barker set forth his fairly well-known, “Resurrection Challenge”, Kent Hovind set forth his infamous “Evolution Challenge”, just recently ‘bigham’ set forth the dumbest challenge ever, “The Sleep Challenge”, and numerous others have set forth some sort of intellectual or investigational challenge to try to convince “the other side”.
But there’s one famous theistic challenge that is often neglected, and I think it’s a noteworthy one. It’s noteworthy because it’s supposed to have been issued by the big dude himself. Yes, none other than YHWH of Bible fame. We’ll look first at the challenge itself (in the Bible), then we’ll look at some Bible stories where the challenge was supposedly taken up.
The challenge, as issued by YHWH through the prophet Isaiah, is found in the book of Isaiah, chapter 41, verses 22 & 23. (The bold emphasis is mine.)
22 “Bring in your idols to tell us
what is going to happen.
Tell us what the former things were,
so that we may consider them
and know their final outcome.
Or declare to us the things to come,
23 tell us what the future holds,
so we may know that you are gods.
Do something, whether good or bad,
so that we will be dismayed and filled with fear.
That’s a fair enough challenge. Basically, “Put up, or shut up.”
So now we’ll see what the Bible tells about how YHWH actually took up this challenge a time or three or four.
We see a dramatic challenge match in I Kings 18:23-39. The terms were simple: each side (Elijah, and the Baal prophets) would put a sacrificed bull on an altar, and then, as Elijah said, “You call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the LORD. The god who answers by fire—he is God.” The Baal prophets wailed for hours, but to no avail. When it was Elijah’s turn, had his bull soaked with lots of water and said a two-sentence prayer. WHOOM! “The fire of the LORD fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water”. And all the people looking on said, “The LORD -he is God! The LORD -he is God!” [I note here that according to Christians who try to explain why God won’t show us any miracles, those people should have responded with, “Nah. I bet that was just a coincidental lightning strike, or maybe an atmospheric, thermal concentration causing spontaneous combustion, or ya know, I bet Elijah was really having them pour lighter fluid instead of water.”]
Elijah pulled a similar fire trick when some soldiers tried to arrest him in 2 Kings 1:10, “If I am a man of God, may fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty men!” Then fire fell from heaven and consumed the captain and his men.
And then, who could forget the great face off between Moses and the magicians of Pharaoh? Those magicians showed a trick or two, but they just could not keep up with YHWH. Old YHWH showed them who was God.
And do you remember I Samuel 5-6, when the Philistines stole the Ark of the Covenant and thought their god had trumped YHWH? They put it in their temple and next morning they found their god’s statue knocked down and broken. They moved the ark to another town and then old YHWH really showed them. He gave them all hemorrhoids. [Which I suppose goes to prove that, “God will get you in the end.”]
What about the New Testament? Do we still see YHWH taking up the gauntlet there? YessireeBob, we do. In Acts 13:6-12, a sorcerer tried to get in Paul’s way and Paul struck him blind. And of course there are all those demons that Jesus and his followers cast out. YHWH was sure not reluctant to pick up the gauntlet and put down the smack in the NT.
OK then. According to the book that’s supposed to be YHWH’s message to us all, God, the big one, the existing one, the creator, the all-knowing, the all-powerful, knows how to take up a challenge. So how about his own challenge? It his, it’s fair, it’s clear, and supposedly he’s taken it up before.
Look here. I’m not willing to devote myself to a do-nothing, imaginary deity who requires apologists to explain away his total inactivity. So, … God!…. If there really is anybody out there:
“Do something, whether good or bad, so that we will be dismayed and filled with fear.”
Do anything, anything at all. Just make sure to put your signature on it, so we can’t miss it.