I don't know. Neither do you. Claiming that their unknown motivations and any number of unknown other factors equals absolute truth, is folly.
For instance, a very good argument can be made that they were hoping for a civil war/revolution and this (the messiah of the prophecies!) would make a good rallying point for the jewish population to their cause - especially since the newly created colony of Judea had a lot of people up in arms about roman taxes, and governorship - even if they had to fabricate a few things here and there to make him into that messiah...maybe to convince him too (or just wait until he is dead - then you can write whatever you want about his corpse and his words/works to suit your own political purposes.)
Some of them were going to the gallows anyway for going up against rome - might as well make a go of getting the people on your side.
We live in a world where many have found their own way of life apart from God. Deciding what is right or wrong has become a matter of individual decision-making. God is right when He states, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” (Proverbs 16:25).
Absolute values cannot exist apart from God. If there is no God, then everyone and everything may be right—even the most perverse ideas and practices. Where did everything that exists come from? Who are we? Where are we going? What is the purpose of life? Is there any reasonable alternative to the belief that a living God provides the answers to these most basic questions? If God does not exist, then we must ask, How did life begin? And how did it become capable of procreation? How is it that the nutritional needs of every living creature are satisfied in a way that produces the delicate balance we see within and between the plant and animal kingdoms? Even after many decades of research, the theory of evolution still leaves the basic questions open.
Without a living God, there are no satisfactory, logical and reasonable answers to these fundamental questions. Belief in the existence of a living God is essential to understanding life. Belief or nonbelief in a living God can change whole societies. Consider how certain societies developed under the atheistic communist system in the 20th century. Ask yourself how Western society changed as the moral and ethical principles derived from the Bible were gradually set aside.
If there is a God, then it matters whether we believe in and serve Him. Where can we find factual evidence proving that God exists? By definition, science is confined to establishing truths by means of evidence derived from physical observation, experience or experimentation—all fundamental elements of the scientific method. The nature of scientific enquiry is such that it cannot deal with unobservable phenomena.
Science can neither confirm nor deny the truth of anything that lies beyond the limits of what is verifiable by the scientific method. We are physical beings, and as a result we receive our information via the five physical senses. Therefore scientific truth is what can be naturally seen. But much truth lies beyond scientific investigation through observation and experimentation. Verifying the existence of God, for example, is beyond the capacity of science. It can be neither proven nor disproven by scientific means.
What kind of evidence would you accept as proof of God‘s existence? What evidence does God provide? The word proof means different things to people. What constitutes proof to one person will not be acceptable to another. Different people demand different amounts or types of proof. Proof is evidence that convinces the mind and is accepted as truth or fact. God’s eternal power can be seen in all the processes of His creation. The witness of creation is inescapable; it surrounds and affects us always and everywhere. Supernatural evidence is no less real than “natural” evidence simply because we cannot detect it scientifically. The main reason we accept that God exists is that the Bible reveals Him as the Creator, Sustainer and Ruler of the universe. The evidence of God’s existence is there for those who have their eyes opened to see—to comprehend and understand what it means. Absolute values cannot exist apart from God; otherwise everything and anything is acceptable.
Absolute values cannot exist apart from God. If there is no God, then everyone and everything may be right—even the most perverse ideas and practices.
This is fundamentally, demonstrably false. Further, God cannot provide absolutes unless we accept that he is either immoral himself and the absolutes are not, they are subject to his whim - God could make the immoral, moral, with a word. Or, God is subject to them, and therefor not all powerful, or the source of them. See the Euthyphro dilemma for a good explanation of this.
There is much to unpack in the rest of this this - most of which can be summed up by - god(s) don't really provide answers to those questions either. Just guesses and wishful thinking.
- Belief or nonbelief in God can change personal lives and societies.
- Science can neither confirm nor deny God’s existence.
- Supernatural evidence is just as real as physical evidence.
- God’s eternal power as Creator can be seen in His creation.
- The Bible reveals God as the Creator, Sustainer and Ruler of the universe.
For many, proof of God’s existence lies in the creation around them. They look up at the Milky Way stretching across the sky on a clear night, or they see photographs of distant stars and nebulae taken with modern telescopes (see Psalm 19:1). They see a convincing beauty and design in the universe, and for them it is reason enough for belief in a Creator. The Bible talks of a man named Job, who was challenged to study the creation to see the power and majesty of God revealed in it (Job 36–41).
Predating the theory of evolution by nearly two thousand years, the apostle Paul wrote that God’s creation is indeed extremely powerful testimony of His existence. But that testimony has been corrupted, undermined and almost obliterated in the minds of men because they have replaced worship of the Creator with that of the creation.
Paul said that “what may be known of God is manifest among them [those who do not believe], for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God. . . . Professing to be wise, they became fools . . . who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever” (Romans 1:19–25). Paul said that people should be able to see that there is a God by observing the nature of the world around them.
No evidence can be strong enough, however, to compel people to believe against their will. And so it has been through the ages: “Although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened” (Romans 1:21).
A person’s belief in God can’t be dismissed as unreasonable just because he or she cannot produce scientific evidence as a basis for that belief. The apostle Paul said that spiritual concepts are “spiritually discerned” by those who have the Holy Spirit at work in their minds (1 Corinthians 2:12–14). The Creator God’s handiwork is physically visible in the universe. But what is physically seen is only part of the certainty that God provides.
Belief in God requires that we accept the Bible as the inspired Word of God. When it says that God created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1), either it is true or it is not. We must accept that fact on faith before we can proceed to know and understand the Creator God; “for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6). Knowing and understanding God brings tremendous satisfaction (Jeremiah 9:23–24). And we can come to know and understand Him because He has revealed Himself in the book He inspired, the Holy Bible.
After we have accepted the existence of God, we can proceed to other biblical revelations about who and what God is.
Paul sure was good at constructing arguments that are not in any way falsifiable or testable, and preclude meaningful discussion.
Rabbis. What're you gonna do?
A person’s belief in God can’t be dismissed as unreasonable just because he or she cannot produce scientific evidence as a basis for that belief.
Nor is it reasonable to dismiss inquiry and curiosity just because a person believes in God.
How is this world any different than an MMO that allows for it's "players" to procreate?
Your trump card requires that we think of our lives as a computer game? Really? Ok - well, here goes.
1. It isn't. But let's pretend and take your analogy further.
Your computer has been on for 14 billion years. Inside your computer are billions upon billions of generators - creating bits of code - the stuff of games - in matrixes that cause those bits of code to gather around each other and interact of their own accord but with a few basic guidelines relating to their complexity and energy requirements. Some can eat others. Some can spawn new generators. Some explode throwing huge long string code segments all over the computer to interact with other matrices. Some of the matrices coalesce into discrete repeating patterns and structures which interact with others nearby - gathering code and structure around them.
These are not fixed structures. They are constantly changing both internally and externally on their own. In at least one of these structures that we know of - tucked away over near the optical drive bay - one of these more common types of structures has, in a back corner of it, an small anomaly of code - one trillionth of it's overall structure that acts differently - spawning new code, and destroying it, each time changing slightly to retain elements of the old code. Those bits of code can interact with each other, procreate, live extremely short lives and think they are the reason the computer is there, because they can only see their own very small part of it and are scared, but it helps to think of the computer user as having some stake in their existence.
But this is an extremely isolated area of the computer - and these little code lives are so small and insignificant as to be entirely unaffected by the rest of the computer, and entirely unable to affect the computer itself. Nobody sitting using the computer can even tell it's happening, much less have intended/directed/programmed it - since the computer has no program - it is just on. And there is no way to know if there is anyone even using the computer - certainly not those tiny bits of code thinking so highly of themselves near the optical drive, or who built it, or turned it on, or if anyone using it, much less what if anything that computer is meant to do. Or if those questions even make any bit of sense, because it's a flawed analogy and the universe is not a computer, much less a game within one.
How is this world different than an MMO? Are we in the matrix? Were the aliens who created the matrix gods, then? They were the programmers, after all... is it possible that god is just a powerful alien, and not responsible for the universe, just for getting our world going?
How are we sure we are not dreaming? Or part of someone else's dream? Are we sure we exist at all?
How does this analogy about our tenuous grasp of reality prove anything about the necessity of a god? It just proves to me that trying to analogize something as complex as reality with something as simplified as a man-made simulacrum (an MMO), you are going to find that it ceases to make sense very quickly.
Just slightly more complex version of finding a watch on the beach, and knowing someone made the watch, then deciding the universe is like a watch, and so must have a watchmaker. The universe isn't a watch. There is no reason to assume there must be a watchmaker. This is a teleological argument for design - that "just by looking at something, you can decide if it was designed or not." But because we can reproduce, and the universe doesn't act as a closed system and generates new material, we have to be careful to not conflate complexity in a living system, with complexity in an inanimate object. Furthermore, complexity itself does not imply a designer. We can, for instance see order and design arise from non-thinking processes (snowflakes, diamonds) - and because we do not have other universes to compare against we cannot say whether this one is an example of design, or one that arrises naturally.
Why is there something rather than nothing? Why is there conscious, intelligent life on this planet, and is there any meaning to this life? If there is meaning, what kind of meaning and how is it found? Does human history lead anywhere, or is it all in vain since death is merely the end? How do you come to understand good and evil, right and wrong without a transcendent signifier? If these concepts are merely social constructions, or human opinions, whose opinion does one trust in determining what is good or bad, right or wrong? If you are content within atheism, what circumstances would serve to make you open to other answers? If we reject the existence of God, we are left with a crisis of meaning, so why don’t we see more atheists like Jean Paul Sartre, or Friedrich Nietzsche, or Michel Foucault? If there is no God, the problems of evil and suffering are in no way solved, so where is the hope of redemption, or meaning for those who suffer? Suffering is just as tragic, if not more so, without God because there is no hope of ultimate justice, or of the suffering being rendered meaningful or transcendent, redemptive or redeemable. It might be true that there is no God to blame now, but neither is there a God to reach out to for strength, transcendent meaning, or comfort. Why would we seek the alleviation of suffering without objective morality grounded in a God of justice? If there is no God, we lose the very standard by which we critique religions and religious people, so whose opinion matters most? Whose voice will be heard? Whose tastes or preferences will be honored? In the long run, human tastes and opinions have no more weight than we give them, and who are we to give them meaning anyway? Who is to say that lying, or cheating or adultery or child molestation are wrong –really wrong? Where do those standards come from? Sure, our societies might make these things “illegal” and impose penalties or consequences for things that are not socially acceptable, but human cultures have at various times legally or socially disapproved of everything from believing in God to believing the world revolves around the sun; from slavery, to interracial marriage, from polygamy to monogamy. Human taste, opinion law and culture are hardly dependable arbiters of Truth. If there is no God, we don’t make sense, so how do we explain human longings and desire for the transcendent? How do we even explain human questions for meaning and purpose, or inner thoughts like, why do I feel unfulfilled or empty? Why do we hunger for the spiritual, and how do we explain these longings if nothing can exist beyond the material world?
I hope you're not expecting anyone to answer all those questions! Any one of them (till the point I stopped reading) merits a book-length answer. Except the first one, for which the only reasonable answer is "I don't know."