Questions for Christians

bible-with-question-markI’ve seen a lot of questions for atheists floating around, and a while ago I answered a list of them (even though I’m not technically an atheist). Usually these sorts of questions are designed to challenge perceived holes in the belief system of the opponent, but it can be difficult to phrase them in a way that will be correctly understood and prompt a thoughtful answer. They too often come across as ignorant or passive-aggressive.

For that reason I’ve refrained from posing difficult questions in such a format. I write about what I think, and try to help people see the issue from another perspective, but I tend to ask questions in private conversations rather than presenting them publicly.

However, there are several questions that I have been unable to get satisfactory answers for. I don’t mean answers I agree with, I just mean a real answer that’s consistent with itself and the rest of the Christian’s worldview. Despite all the talk about Christianity having answers, I get an awful lot of responses appealing to mystery in order to cover up contradictions.

There’s no problem with not knowing the answer. The problem is that Christians often make unfounded assertions that contradict evidence, and then defend them by insisting there must be an answer but we can’t know or understand it. You might as well just admit there’s no reason to think the claim is true.

Here’s a little story about where that sort of reasoning can get you: A very average American man gets an email in broken English from someone in Nigeria who is offering him a million dollars in exchange for assisting in a transfer of funds. Mr. Average has no idea why a Nigerian would be offering him a million dollars, but he’s excited about getting rich so he thinks maybe there’s a supernatural explanation he wouldn’t understand. He then gets scammed out of several thousand dollars.

Religion offers so much on so little evidence, and if you’re not careful you can get scammed out of your health, your career, your family, even your life. This is why you ask questions, and why you should look elsewhere if your current belief system encourages ignorance.

So here are my questions for Christians. I’m genuinely interested in what anyone has to say about these, with a caveat: If you use any form of an appeal to mystery, or some other fallacy, your response is worthless. Make things up if you must, just don’t insist something is true without having a clue how it could be true.

Question 1: Why would an omnipotent god create beings incapable of understanding him, if his goal was to have a relationship with them? Why not create beings who are capable of understanding him?

To clarify, since someone thought this could be explained by pointing out that we have relationships with our pets and they can’t understand us, remember that the relationship between god and humans is portrayed as a father/child or husband/wife relationship. So the pet analogy just underlines the question I’m actually asking: Why would an omnipotent god create beings that are to him what pets are to us for the purpose of having a close interpersonal relationship with them? It’s the same question, still unanswered.

Question 2: Why doesn’t god want to give us clear and direct evidence that he exists? If he made it obvious, people could still choose whether or not to worship and obey him. It’s not a free will issue, so why else would a loving god remain hidden?

Question 3: If you believe enslaving people as permanent property is immoral, why did god specifically tell the Israelites they could do it?

Question 4: Imagine you die and come face to face with a god, but he isn’t the Christian god, and by failing to believe in him you’ve doomed yourself to eternal torment. Now put yourself in the place of the god. As a being who makes all the rules and can do anything he wants, what would you do to the helpless human standing before you, who was absolutely convinced they believed in the correct god? What do you think is the morally right thing to do in such a situation?

Question 5: Given that the gospels included in the bible are only a few of many conflicting gospels, and the fact that their true authors are anonymous, why do you think they are more trustworthy than any other ancient document that makes claims of supernatural events? Other religious texts are known to have been written by verifiable historical figures, so what makes the anonymous gospels more believable?

Question 6: What are your reasons for concluding that the Christian god is real and all other religions are wrong? On what grounds do you reject the claims of other religions that use the same reasons you do?

Question 7: Is there any way to test whether your prayer is the actual cause of things that happen after you pray for them?

Question 8: If you believe in an eternal hell, why do you think infinite punishment for finite crimes is just?

Question 9: Why would god be willing to forgive someone who raped a child, but refuse to forgive someone who simply didn’t believe he existed?

Question 10: If god is omnipotent, why didn’t he create humans with free will who would choose not to sin? Why did he instead create humans who would sin, and in so doing knowingly cause all the suffering that resulted? If he was unable to create humans who would resist sin of their own volition, then how is he omnipotent?

Question 11: If you believe that sin is inevitable for everyone, why do you think it is justifiable for god to punish us for doing something we are incapable of avoiding? Sin is often presented by Christians as a disease we all have. Would it be reasonable to tell sick children not to throw up, and then punish them when they do?

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9 responses to “Questions for Christians

  1. Arguing with someone who is CERTAIN they are right and the other is wrong – is like wrestling in the mud with a pig – after awhile, you realize the pig enjoys it.

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  2. Mason,

    You are an atheist.

    That makes the use of religious doctrine useless.

    When I answer questions atheists have, I resort to reason since it is secular.

    Your inability to understand simple reason further demonstrates the crippling effect that atheism has on the human mind.

    By demanding that I adhere to requirements that you didn’t even put into your questions, you also demonstrate that in order for you to win any argument, you absolutely must rig it in your favor.

    On the other hand, I demand nothing of you with my arguments.

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    • They are questions for /Christians/, dude. I would expect that answers from Christians would be consistent with basic Christian doctrine. I even said so in the article. Your failure to be consistent cannot just be pushed off on me, as if my legitimate question about Christian doctrine can be satisfied with a patronizing answer that contradicts the basics of Christianity itself. If you are incapable of having an honest conversation with someone who thinks differently, I won’t waste my time with you.

      You know what, I’ll just answer the question myself.

      Instead of equating people to god’s pets, you should have said something more like this, “In our life on earth we’re like little children, who can’t understand adult life. But after we die, we gain supernatural abilities, which is like growing up, and then we are able to fully enter into a marriage-like relationship with god.”

      It’s utter bullshit but it’s logically consistent with itself and Christian doctrine. No need for clunky pet analogies that result in equating god’s relationship with humans to a human marrying a dog.

      I’m asking the questions but that doesn’t mean I can’t dream up answers for them. I want to hear a Christian be intellectually honest for once.

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      • All right, thanks for clarifying that you have no interest in reasonable or honest discussion. Since you persist in believing falsehoods about me, and offer nothing but vapid and derivative arguments for Christianity that I myself used when I was a Christian, I am done testing the viability of communicating with you.

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    • Every argument here can be used to support any other god you want. So you’ve failed to provide evidence of the Christian god. If there’s another possible explanation, you need to provide evidence that disproves it in order to claim that your evidence supports a specific hypothesis. Otherwise you’re no more credible than anyone else who claims their deity made everything.

      You may be interested in the article I wrote months ago about why the cosmological argument is completely inadequate to “prove” any specific god, or even that there is a god at all. https://castinglargeshadows.wordpress.com/2016/02/25/the-cosmological-breakdown/

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  3. 1. Human beings have relationships with cats and dogs.

    However, understanding very little of mankind, cats and dogs are able to sustain very loving relationships with human beings.

    Consequently, there is no requirement that man understand God in order to have a relationship with him.

    We are able to have a relationship with God because of our own human nature just as cats and dogs are able to have relationships with man because of their respective cat and dog natures.

    2.God does give us clear, explicit evidence of his existence.

    We are able to understand that God exists through simple reasoning and because the discoveries of modern science have proven the existence of God.

    Consequently, atheism is not only a denial of the existence of God, but a denial of simple reason and modern science.

    3. God meets man where he is. Slavery is where man is. It was a bedrock, global institution for all of human history, until just 150 years ago.

    The Old Testament stories show God meeting his Chosen People where they were, offering regulations that made a brutal institution just a little more humane.

    Since the greatest events of the Bible, Old and New Testament, are God freeing mankind from slavery, the notion that God condones slavery is a particularly noxious, ignorant one.

    I’m not going to spend the time it takes to answer all the questions here.

    But if you wish I will grant two more answers upon request. They are surprisingly easy to answer.

    But atheism being what it is, a faith based on denial, the atheist will find the answers to those questions completely incomprehensible.

    How do I know?

    Because I’ve played this little game with atheists countless times before.

    Atheists are not interested in answers.

    They are interested in destroying the faith of Christians through well crafted propaganda.

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    • Your answer to question number one is impressive, until you realize that it’s a complete misdirection from the actual question. The Christian bible represents the church/Jesus relationship as a marriage between a husband and a wife. I know you’re not proposing that we could marry dogs and cats, so I must conclude that you’re avoiding answering the real question. Which is, why would a perfect and omnipotent god create such ignorant, stupid, and selfish creatures who are so limited in their capabilities and function that they can barely understand anything, let alone an eternal god…for the purpose of having a marriage-like relationship with them? Calling humans god’s pets doesn’t make your religion look any more appealing.

      Please present a piece of evidence that proves the existence of god. I’ve been asking for such a thing since I first deconverted, and nobody has ever shown it to me. If you can provide evidence that can be observed and verified by multiple people, that proves the existence of a god, I would love to see it.

      I notice that your answer to question three admits the existence of words in the bible, attributed to god, that explicitly endorse the practice of enslaving people as permanent property. Your justification for this is that it’s just how people were back then? I don’t get it. That’s a pathetic excuse for an all-powerful god who demanded perfect obedience to numerous very specific rules such as “don’t mock my name”, who supposedly opened up the ground to swallow Israelites who rebelled against him, who killed a guy for pulling out and ejaculating on the ground instead of impregnating a woman, who murdered an unborn child because its parents had sex without being married. That god, you’re saying, was cool with enslaving people. Are you claiming it was necessary for their continued existence to let them enslave people? That can’t be true, since plenty of civilizations got by just fine without enslaving people. The earliest actual abolition of slavery by a government that I could find was in China before 200 BC. Jesus still failed to forbid slavery, and most of the mentions of it in the New Testament simply accept it and tell masters to treat their slaves well. Which is at least an improvement over the “if you beat them and they don’t die, that’s okay because they’re your property” rules of the Old Testament. Which certainly wasn’t necessary to permit, so that means this god is not unchanging, he is not a reliable source of morality, and he is not perfect.

      I deny nothing, but simply refrain from accepting that which has not been supported with testable and verifiable facts. I am not interested in destroying anything, or believing anything. I am interested in knowing the truth. So drop the conceited attitude and be honest, or leave.

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