Ask conservative Christians, especially fundamentalists, what it would take to change their minds about their religion, and many of them would say “Nothing could ever change my mind.” Funny, I also said that, before I realized the importance of being open-minded.
I’d like to be proven wrong about anything I believe. Not because I enjoy being wrong, but because the truth is what’s most important to me. If I were proven wrong about something and forced to change my opinion on it, I would know that I’m at least closer to the truth. Eliminating wrong ideas is every bit as important as finding the right ones, especially since a search for truth is often prompted by eliminating a wrong idea in the first place.
When my deism was challenged, I put my own challenge in one of the articles I wrote in response. I asked for “true Christians” to prove me wrong by showing me that the promises made in the Bible are true. Specifically, I wanted to see the truth of the promise Jesus made several times that if you (or two or more of you) believe in him, you will receive anything you ask for in his name. So I asked people who have this thing called “real faith”, which supposedly makes the promise work, to petition God to send me a surprise windfall of exactly $10,153 by the end of June, which I vowed to pass along to people in need if I actually received it.
At least one person said he would take up the challenge, but I don’t know if he actually did. If he prayed, either he didn’t really believe or he didn’t ask it in the name of Jesus, because I checked my bank accounts and my mail, and as you might expect the money hasn’t shown up.
“But God isn’t a money dispenser!” they cry. “You can’t just ask him for anything you want and expect to get it, just because you believe and ask for it in the name of Jesus.”
The failure of this challenge does not totally disprove the Christian God, of course. Christianity is devilishly clever, with plenty of defenses and paradoxes that make it unfalsifiable. And besides that, I don’t claim to know everything. Sometimes one piece of information will fit into an existing picture and totally reroute all of the logic and it’ll mean something new.
So I’ve still got my eyes open. If you’re a “true Christian” who’s eager to prove the truth of the Bible, I’ve got another challenge for the month of July. It’s perhaps more reasonable since it doesn’t involve money. It’s just a simple miracle that your omnipotent God could perform effortlessly. According to the Bible, he loves me and is willing to die in order to have a relationship with me. I’m supposed to be amazed that he would choose me over his own self (aka his “son”), but all I can do is wonder why he puts so little effort into pursuing his clearly stated goal of saving all humans. I see no reason he would jeopardize the relationship he desires by refusing to answer a simple prayer, when he supposedly sacrificed the life of Jesus in order to get the relationship in the first place.
Of course, I have to ask a “true Christian” to pray it because I don’t believe and thus it won’t work for me. It’s the faith that moves the mountain, not the prayer. But I still want to see that mountain moved…or in this case, the moon.
All I want is to see a total solar eclipse in my town this month.