10 Reasons Christianity Makes No Sense

    By Godless Mama | 28 December 2015
    Secular Press

    Replica of Christus (1838) by Bertel Thorvaldsen (1770–1844). (Credit: Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain)

    When I discovered the online atheist community a few years ago, one of the things that astounded and humbled me the most was the scholarliness of so many activist atheists. I had never before been in the company of so many people so versed in scripture, so skilled in the arts of rhetoric and argumentation, so keen to identifying and deconstructing logical fallacies. I’m not going to lie: It’s often been intimidating to be surrounded by people whose expertise in such things is so far beyond my own, comparatively unsophisticated approach. But as time passes and I learn more and more about these subjects, I find that my basic issues with religion in general, and Christianity in particular, have not evolved to more abstract ontological questions, but have rather crystallized my inability to reconcile even the most basic and fundamental principles of Christian faith.

    1. Jesus didn’t die. Christians are always going on about how Jesus died for our sins, but if he came back 3 days later then he didn’t die at all; more like being in a brief coma, which is a drag, but not exactly the ultimate sacrifice that the crucifixion is cracked up to be. And it wasn’t just his spirit that departed to heaven, but his actual physical being. If you go dig up a 3-day old grave, regardless of what you think may have happened to that person’s immortal soul, there’s still going to be a body in it. Jesus’ tomb, on the other hand, was empty, meaning that following his resurrection he was either a zombie or he was fully alive, neither of which is dead. Even more relevant is that when he was hanging there on the cross, Jesus knew that he was going to come back. He didn’t have to endure the fear of death that any other human being would have had to face or the uncertainty that presumably afflicts all but the most devout at the moment of death about whether there really was going to be an afterlife, or if this was lights out for good. Yes, he probably suffered physically, but he knew that death would be no more than a long nap and then he’d be up and at ‘em again. In short, he didn’t die.

    2. Jesus didn’t have faith. Jesus was always rolling his eyes and scolding his disciples for not having enough faith. There are many verses to be found in the New Testament in which Jesus says some variation of, “Don’t trust your senses, don’t look for evidence, just accept it because I said so.” But if Jesus was the son of god, then faith wasn’t something he needed – he knew god and heaven were real because that’s where he came from, no faith required. How fair is it to command the rest of the world to believe something on faith alone, threatening eternal punishment to any who don’t believe it, when you yourself have no faith and all the evidence?

    3. Jesus didn’t take away my sins. Or did he? I am no logician, but if Jesus died to take away the sins of humanity, then doesn’t that mean that once he was crucified there was no longer any such thing as sin? If his “death” was the absolution of the human race, which we are told it was, why do I still have to do what the bible says, or go to church, or even believe? Aren’t I already saved by his “sacrifice?” And if I am not, and there are still rules to follow and sins that could keep me out of heaven, then what exactly was the point?

    4. Jesus wasn’t a very nice guy. American Christians talk a lot about so-called family values, but that concept doesn’t have much, if any, basis in the actual story of Christ. Jesus demanded that his disciples abandon their families and save all of their devotion for him and him alone – a rather narcissistic and not particularly family-centric expectation. Aside from seeming to be in direct contradiction to the commandment about honoring thy mother and father, abandoning spouses and children, while not against any commandments, still seems like a douchey thing to do, even 2,000 years ago.

    5. Jesus’ dad was really not a nice guy. We all know that the bible is full of rape, murder, genocide, slavery, and every manner of atrocity – and not in a, “This is what our enemies do so don’t be like them” way, but in a “As long as you are one of mine, have at it” way. Then Jesus showed up and said, more or less, that the old laws still applied, and he wasn’t about to change them. Yes, he was willing to call out hypocrisy, and he did seem to care somewhat about social justice – at least with regard to poverty and leprosy – but otherwise he was still the enforcer of some rather distasteful rules. And don’t even get me started on Jesus being his own father – a concept that, in addition to making no sense, makes Jesus himself the very same god of the Old Testament that Christians like to dismiss as no longer relevant (except when it comes to hating gays).

    6. Prayer is contradictory. We are told that god has a plan for everything, but then we are told to pray – for our loved ones to get better when they fall ill, for safety in the storm, for the home team to win the big game. Does that mean god will change his plan if you pray hard enough, or the right way, or get enough other people to pray for the same thing? At the very least this seems to suggest he doesn’t really have much of a plan if he’s willing to modify it based on popular opinion or for those who ingratiate themselves to him, not to mention that it’s a rather arbitrary, if not capricious, approach to human suffering. Further, people often say they pray for things like inner peace, strength, understanding, the solution to personal problems, etc. I don’t pray, but I do a lot of introspection in search of those same things, and then I do either what my conscience tells me is right or what my objectivity tells me has the best chance for the desired outcome. I suspect that people who pray end up doing more or less the same thing but attributing their conclusion to an outside agency. If that is the case, how can they explain that atheists (or members of other religions) can get to the same place with no (or a different) agent? And how strange is it, anyway, to carve out your conscience, that innermost part of yourself, the very core of what makes you you, and say it isn’t you?

    7. The bible doesn’t set the moral bar very high. Let’s face it: Don’t rape people, don’t own people, don’t hate people, and don’t hurt children are kind of no-brainers when it comes to morality. Our friend Jesus and his old man not only failed to make these things clear, but in many instances they encouraged, condoned, or commanded them. Sure, Jesus said a few things about loving your neighbor and being kind to strangers, but he also said that not believing in him was the worst offense a person could commit and that anyone who didn’t believe would burn in Hell for all eternity. And seriously, the Ten Commandments as a basis for all morality? Checking out your neighbor’s wife is worse than raping his daughter? Taking the lord’s name in vain is worse than owning slaves? Nice priorities. Add to this the fact that god himself does not follow his own rules, to which Christians respond that mere mortals cannot understand or judge the morality of god. But if the bible defines morality, and god has a different set of rules for himself than for humans, and we are not allowed to know or understand his rules except that we are expected to do as he says but not as he does, then how exactly does that provide any kind of moral baseline whatsoever?

    8. Christian love is not very loving. We hear a lot about Jesus’ love and god’s love, and how god so loved the world that he gave his only son, yada yada yada. We already covered the part about him not really giving up his son, and enough has been said by people smarter than I am about the questionable necessity of having a baby, leaving him be for 30 years, torturing him to death, and then bringing him back to life a few days later as a way of forgiving humanity instead of – oh, I don’t know, just saying “I forgive you.” We covered too that this supposed forgiveness isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on if I’m still considered a sinner and an apostate and bound for hell for not believing. But if we set that part of the contradiction aside, how loosely are we defining love if we are applying it to the bible? “I love you so much that I will torture and murder my own son as a symbol of something I could just give you without the bloodbath. I love you so much that I will reward you with an eternity in heaven, but you have to suffer and die in this world first. Salvation is yours, so long as you swear your devotion to me and only me. And believe what I say even if it sounds like nonsense because I told you to. And admit that deep down you are a rotten piece of garbage who doesn’t really deserve my love. And if you don’t do all of these things you will burn in a lake of fire for all eternity. But seriously, I love you.”

    9. Terrible things happen to good people. A quarter of a million people died in the tsunami of 2006. Twenty first graders and six adults were slaughtered at Sandy Hook. People die of starvation, are killed by war and disease, are raped or beaten by people who have power over them, and suffer in countless other ways. If there is an omniscient, omnipotent god who is also loving, as Christians would have us believe, why do these things happen? Why do children suffer and die? Why are there droughts and floods and famines and pestilences and earthquakes and wars? Why couldn’t god just make people nice? Why create natural disasters? Why didn’t he set forth better, clearer rules to eliminate ambiguity about how we are supposed to treat each other? God either intervenes or he doesn’t; god is either omnipotent or he isn’t. If he does and he is, then suffering exists because god intends for it to be that way. If he doesn’t and he isn’t, then he isn’t in control of anything, including the minutiae of how we live our daily lives. How is either a god worth worshipping?

    10. It’s all just way too convenient. Got what you prayed for? He answered your prayers. Praise Jesus! Didn’t get it? He has another plan. Praise Jesus! Don’t have the answers? You’re not meant to. Praise Jesus! Figured out the answer? He chose you. Praise Jesus! Sad about the deaths of your loved ones? They’re in a better place. Praise Jesus! Sad about how much your life sucks? You’ll be happy once you’re dead. Praise Jesus! Honestly, when the answer to every question is exactly the thing that makes you feel best / most comforted / least in need of using your own intellect, should that not send up a huge red flag that maybe you’re not being completely objective?

    These are not overtly intellectual, clever, or even particularly insightful observations, nor am I the first person to make them. But as someone who has lived an entire life without religion, the exercises of engaging apologists, philosophizing, or running ontological obstacle courses seem – perhaps naively, but seem nonetheless – to be almost beside the point when the most basic premises of religious belief are so deeply flawed. These irreconcilable contradictions explain a lot about why religious indoctrination is necessary at a very young age, and sadly, they explain a lot about why the world is in the sorry state it is: Because they make people adept at rationalizing the irrational, believing the unlikely, and justifying the immoral.

    Godless Mama is a liberal, atheist, anti-theist writer and parent seeking to make the world a better place through the spread of secularism and the exposing of the harms of religion. In addition to GodlessMama.com, she contributes to a number of other political and atheist pages and blogs.

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    158 COMMENTS

    1. I’m neither atheist nor theist. I went to Catholic school K-6. I have more Christian friends at public school because my friends at Catholic school (including myself) started seeing that dots were being connected that had no business being connected. Over the course of my short time on earth I’ve argued for God, against God, and to just cool down the “dinosaurs” didn’t exist crowd.

      That being established, I think this is a very poor article. The argument “Jesus didn’t even die” doesn’t work against someone who believes in miracles. Faith is the end of an argument. You can’t fight “maybe, but that’s what I believe.” And point 8 about “why didn’t he just say I forgive you?” The Bible is all about communicating more than it does. The idea that Jesus died for us indicates that he suffered for all of us, and we should suffer for the sake of others in the same way. I could go on but I’ll end with point 10. “It’s all just way too convenient.” Who cares? If something answers your most agonizing problems with very few consequences, great! I can’t tell you how many people in my church lost a loved one and were comforted by the simple “s/he’s in a better place now” to include my 12 year old friend who found his dad dead of a heart attack.

      I don’t know what I really believe in regard to religion, but I do know it has a very positive impact on some people’s lives. When I see “anti-theist writer and parent seeking to make the world a better place through the spread of secularism and the exposing of the harms of religion” it makes me a bit sick. Sure some of it doesn’t make sense, sure some christians are total morons, but who cares? Who is ot hurting? Besides I know caring atheists, atheists who are pieces of trash, smart athiests, athiests who are morons, a christian with 2 PhD and an MD, many more who are otherwise extraordinarily intelligent, many christians who are dead stupid but find piece and happiness in God. Most importantly, I have friends who believe the Bible to a tee, don’t believe in dinosaurs and all that crazy stuff, and friends in the same group who are the most staunch athiests I know. I’ve given up arguing God because I don’t think it does any good. In any case, I think this is certainly a poor way of going about it.

    2. Every atheist article and comment section comes back to homosexuality. It’s almost like the Democrat/Republican thing. There are more sides to the story than the same old 2 that everyone hears about and discusses like a dead old horse that has been beaten into a powdery ash.

    3. And salvation seems to be awarded by luck of birth. If you have to believe in Jesus's divinity to be saved, you have no chance of salvation if you've never heard of Him. Which none of the inhabitants of North and South America had until the European conquests. And why is the most important criterion of salvation belief in something that is obviously irrational and therefore false? Seems like a special filter to get rid of anyone who can weigh evidence and deduce a rational conclusion.

      I was raised in Protestant Christianity and, as a a child, I had perfect faith. I believed that the Gospels were historical truth, that no reasonable person could doubt. Oddly, I could pray for things and the prayers were sometimes answered. Seriously. One time I prayed for a bag of candy, turned around and there was the bag of candy. And it was exactly the candy I had prayed for too. There were other instances of this kind of thing. I'm not kidding about this, and I throw it in as an interesting wrinkle in the discussion.

      Of course, when I was nineteen, it occurred to me that the most likely (by far) explanation for the supernatural events described in the Gospels was that they were made up. Fictions. I wrote my Dad a letter (this was in 1971,when people still did that) and said that I no longer believed that Jesus had risen from the dead. He wrote back to tell me that he and Mom didn't believe it either, but went to church anyway, because that was the socially mandated thing to do. Well.

      But anyway, I'm still stuck with the Christian morality I was taught as a child and an adolescent. (I was born in 1952) You can't get me to condone things like premarital sex or homosexuality. I just can't do it, although I can keep my mouth shut to avoid the heavy load of wrath that will descend upon me if I admit to these now wildly atavistic beliefs.

    4. It was fairly easy for me to jettison Christianity. Jesus was a man and the stories about him are packed with things that couldn't have actually happened, and were written long after he had died. Jesus of Nazareth was no more the Son of God than Joseph Smith of the Mormons.

      Jettisoning belief in a protecting God is for me impossible. The appeal of the idea is just too strong. Oddly, God's moral requirements are exactly the same as the ones I learned from my parents, but never mind. I pray when I'm in trouble and need help. Otherwise I don't. But I cannot get out from under the belief that God is watching and will guide me in choosing the right thing.

      Now here's the kicker. I know on a rational level that this is nonsense, but I believe it anyway, and proceed as if it were true. A a result I have a certain respect and tolerance for religious people and yes, I do suspect that they are morally superior to atheists.

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