22 Questions for Christians

    By Larry Rhodes | 28 May 2015
    Digital Freethought Blog

    (Image by peachknee from Pixabay)

    It’s funny that whenever I tell a believer that I’m an atheist, they always start asking me questions. I don’t really mind, I realize that I might very well be the first atheist that they’ve ever met, and I’m happy to put the lie to some of the church-given notions about us. However, what continues to amaze me is that these questioners, who are VERY happy to question my beliefs, so rarely question their own.

    With that in mind, I have drawn up several questions that I would like believers (in this case Christian believers) to ponder. And it’s not for my own edification that I ask them, but for theirs. I hope that if they honestly consider these questions they might realize for themselves just how much of their own skepticism and rationality they have been sidelining.

    So, let’s get started:

    1. What, exactly, is your basis for believing that the Bible is True; not necessarily the word of god, but true? Remember, your answer can’t be “Because the Bible says it’s true”, ANY book would be true by that measure, and any religion would be true by that measure. They can’t ALL be true because they contradict each other. Further, if you’ve read it, you know that it’s not a good book; that is, god doesn’t exactly set a good example. He’s a ruthless dictator and the book is full of His atrocities.

    Is it just because your parents told you that it was true? And that most of the people you know think that it is true? Really, think about it, what real, extra-biblical basis do you have to believe it is the work of a God? And if you’re considering answering “I just feel that it’s true”, go ready my article entitled “Feelings aren’t facts”.

    2. In the Bible, in the Garden of Eden, if the fruit of the Tree-of-Knowledge contains the knowledge of Good/Evil and Right/Wrong, then how could Adam and Eve have known it was “wrong” to disobey God and eat the fruit before they did? They couldn’t have known what right and wrong meant. Also if God had explained to Adam and Eve what right and wrong was before they ate of the fruit so that they would understand why it was wrong to eat the apple, then wouldn’t He have essentially given them the Knowledge that he had just forbidden them to have? Remember; THIS is the Original Sin, the basis for the need for salvation in all of Christianity.

    Moreover, why did God put the Tree-of-Knowledge in the Garden of Eden in the first place? Especially if He knew what was going to happen? Isn’t he supposed to know everything that will ever happen? It would have been so easy just to place it on the other side of the world; or on the Moon for that matter.

    3. How could an All-Loving God send ANYONE to hell? Remember, He is supposed to love us more than any parent ever loved their child; and note that He isn’t using Hell as a remedial, instructional punishment like a parent punishes; a parent punished a child in order to teach them to behave better. Here, God is punishing sinners just for the sake of inflicting pain and suffering forever. There is no lesson to be learned or benefited from, with this type of punishment. How is this a god of love?

    And really, which is worse, Hitler killing 10,000,000 people (Jews, Homosexuals, atheists, gypsies, etc.) or God keeping hundreds of millions of people alive just to torture them for eternity; some simply for not believing in Him, or even a particular version of Him? According to the teachings of Christianity, all of the Jews that Hitler tortured and killed were then promptly sent to Hell for not believing that Jesus was the Christ/Savior; and according to the Bible, these are God’s Chosen People!

    4. If God is All Loving, how could He allow Children to get cancer? Heck compared to God, ANYONE on earth would have more love and compassion for children. I can’t imagine a single human that would intentionally give cancer to a child, or even ALLOW them to get cancer if they could prevent it.

    Also, in a court of law, if you know about a crime that is about to be committed, and don’t try to report or prevent it, you’re considered an accessory to that crime. That would mean that God, and Jesus, who know everything that is about to happen, are accessories to every child-murder, rape or kidnapping that happens anywhere on the planet.

    5. Why did an All-Loving God create Evil? (Isaah Chapter 45:7) Or for that matter, allow the King of Evil, Satan, to live amongst us, with super powers to boot! How are we, as mere mortals, supposed to know what is true if Satan is there to plant false evidence and create illusions to fool us? You can’t conclusively say that he didn’t create the Bible itself. If you compare God and Satan based just on their atrocities in the bible, Satan would come out looking pretty good! The only people in the Bible that Satan killed were Job’s family, and then only when God said it was Ok.

    6. How could God make the eating of shellfish and ham, or a woman wearing a man’s clothing, abominations? Not just dangerous, but abominations!? That puts them right up there with homosexuality.

    7. How could an All-Loving God command his chosen people to kill babies, and children? (Hosea 13:16, Sash 13:15-18, etc.)

    8. If I only have to have Faith to believe, how do I know what to believe? Every different sect of Christianity (and indeed, every religion) says I have to have Faith to believe that what they say is true. And if having Faith MAKES it true, then why not make up your own new religion, one without a hell, and have faith in that!?

    9. How could Satan think that he could have a revolt against someone who is All-Knowing and All-Powerful? How could there even BE a war in Heaven, when God would know about it before hand, and could just snap His fingers and wipe out all opposition?

    10. Why did God try to kill Moses right after sending him on the mission to free the Jews from Egypt? (Exodus 4:24-26) And THEN why did a foreskin-ectomy by Moses’ wife stop him?

    11. For that matter, what’s with God’s obsession with foreskins? Isn’t God supposed to be a perfect being? Why would a perfect being design men with foreskins, then command us to cut it off!? (Not to mention that the creator and ruler of the universe should have more important things to worry about.)

    12. Why did God send Moses to Egypt to free the Jews, and then “harden Pharaoh’s heart” (Exodus 7:3) so that he would not let the Jews leave, thereby making it necessary to set his 10 plagues loose on Egypt? Doesn’t that pretty much negate Pharaoh’s free-will in the matter, and punish all the people of Egypt because of it?

    13. Why would God condemn his own son to torment and death at the hands of the people that He was planning to forgive anyway? Why not just forgive them? Was that not in his power? Indeed, according to Christianity, what is NOT in his power?

    14. If God is constantly curing illnesses through prayer, and faith-healers, why can’t He re-grow an arm, or a leg? You never see that happen. Also, it seems that the cures that we are told DO happen are always internal, and therefore unverifiable. If he really loved us and wanted us to believe in Faith healers, why doesn’t he command his faith healers to go to hospitals and heal the people there?

    15. Why does God let Catholic priests victimize our children? Do you think that those children are not praying for it to stop? Why doesn’t god DO something about it? Tracy Harris of the Atheist-Experience out of Austin, TX, said, “If I could stop a person from raping a child I would. That’s the difference between me and your god.” That doesn’t say much for your god, but it stands to reason if god is evil, or if there IS no god.

    16. Why does God let Televangelists take money, in His name, from the sick, old and infirm who cannot afford it, and who will suffer because of it?

    17. If God is everywhere, then where the heck was He when the Serpent was tempting Eve? Was he just playing games with humanity at the time of their greatest crisis? What kind of person would do that?

    18. If Christians are forgiven, and they know they will be forgiven no matter what they do, why should they refrain from doing evil? Atheists don’t have that expectation for forgiveness, and they don’t go around killing and stealing. They know they have to live with the consequences of their actions, in the real world; and that it’s the only world they’re going to get.

    19. How can God blame us for our imperfections when He made us that way? That is, if he didn’t want us constantly fornicating, then why did he make our sex-drive so strong? The Bible says that homosexuality is a sin and an abomination, so why did he create people that way? NO, it’s not a choice. Their sexual-orientation is no more a choice than yours is. How easy would be for you to reverse your sexual orientation?

    20. How can God be surprised or angered by anything we do when He’s supposedly all-knowing? And why does God get angry, and demand vengeance when we succumb to the weaknesses that He put in us in the first place? This would mean He’s not all loving AND that He is subject to human emotions.

    21. If God tells you to do something horrible like he did with Abraham and “Son of Sam” would you do it? Or rather, wouldn’t you think that this order can’t be from GOD, God is good, and this is an awful thing to do.

    The following is from If God is dead, is everything permitted? By Elizabeth Anderson:

    Kant advances a moral criterion for judging the authenticity of any supposed revelation. If you hear a voice, or some testimony purportedly revealing god’s word, and it tells you to do something you know is wrong, don’t believe that it’s really god telling you to do these things.

    I believe that Kant correctly identified the maximum permissible moral limits of belief in extraordinary evidence concerning god. These limits require that we reject the literal truth of the bible.

    My colleague James Tappenden argues that such a liberal approach to faith is theologically incoherent. Perhaps it is. Still, given a choice between grave moral error and theological muddle, I recommend theological muddle every time.

    That is, if you “receive” a thought that is theoretically from God, judge it for its moral worth. If it’s not good, it’s not from god. (Remember, to Theists, GOD isn’t the only supernatural being that has the ability to put thoughts in your head.) Doing this shows that our own morals prevail over a “revelation” from a supposed deity. Also, if we judge the Bible by these criteria, it would be shown that major portions of the Bible have to be rejected; as the passages could not be from a good God. How much of the Bible would we have to throw away then?

    22. If this life is infinitesimally short, and the next one eternally long, then why should we try to DO anything other than “praise the lord” while we’re here? Why go to school or pursue a college education? Why do anything other than just study the Bible and wait? Would you have us all be like the “Holy Men” of India, or Monks of the old world, who do nothing but study scriptures?

    If so, you might as well turn off your computer and TV. Park your car, and throw away your cell phone. Modern society would soon crumble into dust. The entire world would revert back to medieval times (or before). Doctors would no longer have colleges to go to, all scientific research would stop, and all other training would end.

    Reprinted with permission from the author.

    Larry S. Rhodes was born into a Christian family, but is now a 40-year Atheist. He is the Founder and President of the Atheists Society of Knoxville as well as the President of the Rationalists of East Tennessee. For 4 years he was the Executive Producer of Freethought Forum, a public access call-in Atheist TV show that is still airing. He is also the author of Atheism: What’s it all about?.

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    6 COMMENTS

    1. There is no book of Sash in the Bible. Hosea 13:6 says, "but when they had grazed, they became full, they were filled, and their heart was lifted up; therefore they forgot me." If you are going to use the Bible to support your argument, at least make sure the verses say what you claim and that the books actually exist.

    2. Most of your concern seems to come from a misunderstanding of the nature of God. It’s a hard truth to accept, but everything must have opposition. “If not so, my firstborn in the wilderness, righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad” (2 Nephi 2: 11). If God took away the results of the actions of sinners, like preventing murders, what reason would he have to punish them? Only evil thoughts. People who do bad things are allowed to do those things so that on judgement day, God has something to deliver justice for. Entertaining evil thoughts isn’t good, but it isn’t nearly as punishable as acting on them. God does not send a select few to heaven and the rest to eternal punishment. There are three kingdoms after death. The first kingdom holds the people of God, and they can be with the father of their spirits and with their families, because they have been sealed together by priesthood power. The second kingdom holds those who were good, but never accepted God. The third kingdom holds the sinners, and this kingdom is far from God. 1 Peter 4 talks of the gospel being preached to the dead, however, and I believe that even after death, those in the first kingdom will descend to the lower ones to continue trying to help Gods children to grow. God does not have a thing for foreskin, god has a thing for symbolic devotion. God gives trials to people so they have a reason to grow and so they can hopefully turn to Him for help. God does not hate people for feeling gay. Acting on homosexual tendencies is sinful, but there is no reason for anyone to hate someone who sins, because everyone sins. I’m grateful I haven’t had to face that trial, and I take pride in the people I know who have had to face those desires and overcame it anyway. Your confusion on Adam’s fall: “Adam fell that men might be, and men are that they might have joy” (2 Nephi 2:25). Adam and Eve only knew to do what they were told. They were told not to partake. Then they were told to partake. It was the first sin, but it was part of God’s plan. Adam and Eve set the precedent for agency, our ability to choose. The biggest tenant of Gods plan was that we be allowed agency to choose for ourselves what to do, with the understanding that our actions have consequences. This was not accidental. Translation of the Bible by one of Gods modern prophets, Joseph Smith, reveals that that verse about pharaoh actually should say “pharaoh hardened his heart”. I don’t have the strongest faith in the Old Testament, but the Book of Mormon testifies that the Bible is the word of God, and that is a physical evidence that helps me know the Bible is true, although sometimes I question the old testaments description of god

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