I’ve encountered a few very different Christians recently. We have Dave, a pastor, who believes in diversity, but also believes that Christianity supports violence as long as they benefit; Rina who says that she must take everything in the bible literally because if you don’t, what is to stop you from finding a resurrected dead guy to be ridiculous, but is sure that stars aren’t attached to a dome and can’t fall on the earth; and Scientific Christian (you can find his blog through clicking on his avatar in the comments here where he is *quite* prolific) who lies regularly , wants to physically harm those who disagree with him, insists that the bible and translators are wrong if they disagree with him and the very same ones right if they agree with him and very much wants my attention.
As you can see, Christians vary a *lot*, and this is only scratching the surface. I’m guessing that each of these three would have issues with what the other two claim to be true.
The following questions were asked at Dave’s church. On his blog, it seems to be the intent on giving the answers to them at some time in the future so you may wish to follow to see what answered are given. I’ll give my answers here. Unfortunately, Dave does not have comments open on his blog. I may be responsible for that, in asking too many questions that pointed out the problems in Christian claims. If you are a regular reader here, you’ve seen this information before.
That’s a good observation. This god doesn’t make anything obvious, and if one is to believe that this god wrote or directly inspired the bible, one has to ask, why does this entity contradict itself repeatedly and make promises that are not fulfilled. Christians will claim that this god constantly does miracles as evidence, but when it is pointed out that lots of people who need these miracles don’t get them despite prayers e.g. when priests are raping children or when parents murder their children by not getting medical attention, then we get the excuses that this god doesn’t always do miracles, that this god will answer them only if that is the best answer according to it, or it may get around to doing the miracle later. However, if you read the bible, it doesn’t say this will happen. Prayers will be answered immediately (the mountain moves), positively, (a father would not give their child a snake if asked for a fish), and that any prayer will be answered as long as you ask it in JC’s name. Christians offer the caveat that the prayer must be what God intended anyway, which means a prayer is worthless.
There is also the problem that the essential events of the bible have no extra-biblical support for them. There are mentions of Christians in historical documents but not of the essential events in the bible. It is very hard to pin down when these events supposedly happened since even Christians disagree on what happened and when.
If God is the creator of all things, who or what created God?
Most Christians will try to claim that their god has always existed and thus does not need a creator. The first cause (cosmological) argument is based on the assumption that the Christian god is the only god, and that has always existed. Most, if not all, other religions make the same claim, which leaves us with a lot of competing gods and no evidence for any of them. There is also nothing that says that the laws of physics can’t simply have “always existed”.
Most Christians will blame the “fall”, which depends on a literal belief in the bible’s claims, something that they don’t always agree on.
Why doesn’t God act to stop all suffering?
One would think that an omnipotent, omniscient and omnibenevolent being would do this, eliminate all suffering. Christians disagree on the reason that their god seems to have no problem allowing it and indeed reveling in it. Some Christians are sure that humans deserve to suffer, that we all bear some responsibility for the “fall”. Some Christians claim that if there was no suffering we would not know what good was, which is a bit of a problem for their claims about heaven. Still others claim that suffering can lead to good, which is fine to argue when the actors aren’t omnipotent, but doesn’t work quite so well with an omnipotent and supposedly omnibenevolent deity. If this god cannot get things to work without evil, it evidently isn’t all-powerful. By definition there should be nothing that this god can’t do.
If God actively intervened in bad things, surely more people would believe in him?
One would think so, wouldn’t you? But Christians offer excuses why this wouldn’t happen. There is the problem of how do you show it is your god rather than someone else’s (see question 1). But we can give this god the benefit of the doubt, at least to a point, to think that a certain supernatural, utterly against physics event was due to it. But we get none of these events. All we get are claims without evidence, coincidence and parlor tricks. For instance, there are many claims of healings of medical maladies, but not so strangely, not one amputee who got a limb back. Some Christians of course offer excuses like only “spiritual” maladies are cured, but again, other Christians insist that this is wrong. Who should be believed?
Another excuse is that this god wants to be believed in by faith only, and thus won’t show itself. This is a problem since the bible has JC saying that the miracle he did were expressly intended to serve as evidence to gain acceptance. Why the change in M.O. just when humans started questioning claims?
If God created everything in and on earth why does some of the evidence (Dinosaur fossils, geological science) lead scientists to believe in an ancient Universe? Wouldn’t he make things much more straight forward to support him?
Why indeed? Some Christians claim that the evidence that points to a godless universe was put here by Satan, which begs the question: why would this god allow this intentional deception? Some claim it is a test to see if we’ll believe and not question. Why a omniscient being would need to test anything is a problem, since it already knows everything, past, present and future?
Some Christians have no problem with the evidence that disputes a common Christian claim that the universe is only 6,000+ years old. They insist that the claims of the bible are not to be taken literally and have the “days” being 10s of thousands, millions or billions of years and often claim that evolutionary theory is accurate but is guided by their deity. The words of the bible must be retranslated to match the evidence found. Now, which variant of Christian should be believed? And why can’t they convince each other?
Hah! 🙂 That is an excellent question. Again, Christians can’t quite agree on what the answer should be. Some claim that Trump really is a Christian; the problem is that Christians can’t agree on what that exactly means. Some are quite sure that their version of JC is a gun-toting, bigoted white man who drapes himself in a Confederate battle flag and who wants to commit genocide just like his dad. Some claim that Trump is here to start the end times, so that particularly unpleasant type of Christian can get their magic presents and joyously watch everyone that dares disagree with them be punished. Some Christians are horrified that their god supposedly approves of such a man, per the bible (Romans 13) and don’t know what to think, except to blindly claim that anything this god does simply must be for the “better”. And some Christians stand against Trump and are sure that he is an anti-Christ, against all of the good parts of Christianity, the caring for the less fortunate, etc. Lots of those were at the various marches around the world.
Is it alright to have doubts… and what is the antidote to doubting?
Doubts are always good and lead to questioning what you’ve been told by someone who doesn’t want you to question at all. Many Christians want you to believe without questioning and will threaten you with death and worse to get you to agree with them and to give them the external validation they need to keep up their faith. The antidote to doubting is facts and if you can’t find facts to support what you want to believe, then there is no reason to believe it, no matter how appealing your fantasy is.
Having been a Christian (Presbyterian version, and all about that lovely predestination), I know how great it is to think that there is some omnipotent, omniscient being that agrees with you and will protect you no matter what. However, the facts don’t support that at all. Each Christian, indeed, each theists of any type, creates their god in their image. From the evidence, being of one religion or another or none at all doesn’t make one kind or humane. That comes from how you were raised and how you think. No god needed at all for hope, meaning or satisfaction. That’s all up to you. And that’s quite a responsibility. Take it up.