Take for example the claim made by the author of Matthew about Jesus when, for some unexplained reason he found it necessary to boast about his marvelous abilities:
Now in the morning as he returned into the city, he hungered. And when he saw a fig tree in the way, he came to it, and found nothing thereon, but leaves only, and said unto it, Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever. And presently the fig tree withered away.
And when the disciples saw it, they marvelled, saying, How soon is the fig tree withered away! Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done. And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.
This is a strange tale if it's about an omniscient god in human form because it implies that Jesus had to go and look to see if the fig tree had any fruit and was the sort of person who would punish even trees when they disappointed him, rather like a petulant child. In Mark's version (Mark 11:20-24) he even has to go back next day to check that the curse has worked! Clearly this is a tale from before Jesus had been mutated into a god and was still merely a human. But that's not the main point of this blog; I dealt with that unlikely tale in God Hates Figs!
The point here is about the difference between reality and metaphor.
Challenge any Christian to prove that 'Faith can move mountains', like Jesus unequivocally implies here. Jesus doesn't restrict it to people with special magical abilities and only boasts that he could do it is he so wished because he doesn't have any doubts. You just need to pray for it to happen and it will happen - allegedly.
Except of course it doesn't.
Has this ever been done by anyone? If not, why not? Are there no Christians who have enough faith? Even the thousands who have died as martyrs? Not any of the saints or Popes or founders of new Christian sects? How about asking your pastor to move a mountain? How about just a small pebble? The excuses should be interesting but Jesus says it's doubt preventing it. Ask him/her what doubts exactly? Why did no martyred saint burned at the stake ever manage to pray the fire out or beheaded saint ever manage to make the axe-head fly off the handle?
Was Matthew (and Mark who tells a similar tale, though Mark's account, which Matthew mostly copied anyway, needed a whole night for the curse to work) just over-egging the pudding when they wrote down these tales? Were they just setting us up to be told it's our fault when prayer doesn't work because we don't have enough faith, like the rogue trader or con artist who blames his victims for being so gullible?
The normal response to these sorts of questions about specific, testable (and so falsifiable) claims made in the Bible, if the 'out of context' excuse isn't deployed - and it's difficult to see how this can be taken out of context - is to claim it's a metaphor.
A metaphor for what, exactly? A metaphor for faith/prayer alone being able to produce something else equally unlikely? If so what and when? What unlikely event has ever been shown to have happened because a Christian with enough faith prayed for it to happen? If this can be done so easily (Jesus doesn't place any limitations on how often or for what purpose it can be used - 'And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive') why don't Christians solve all the world's problems, cure all disease and disability, and remove all want and squalor with prayers?
Do they perhaps think these are good things?
Could it be that Matthew was just making a false claim or reporting a false claim made by Jesus; an empty boast intended to mislead and deceive? It's manifestly untrue to claim the faith can move mountains otherwise we would see it being done, and the Christian who did it would gain immediate worldwide fame, would be guaranteed a sainthood and would probably found a new 'one true church'. Even Jesus could only boast about doing it, apparently!
So, if you're a Christian who believes in the literal truth of the Bible, that Jesus would never exaggerate or lie and you have no doubts that the Christian god exists and is exactly as described in the Bible, prove it. You don't need to move a mountain, just a pebble, with prayer alone. Go on! Make something impossible happen in front of witnesses.
'...all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive' - Jesus. Is that true or not?
If the truth sets you free, what do lies do?