Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Hard Questions For Christians (Part 1)


I have to admit that my brand of atheism is slightly antagonistic. 
Some people find this unsettling or controversial, and I can tell you for a fact that my atheism has damaged friendships and relationships.
When I was a Christian, the concept of losing friends and relationships by boldly proclaiming Christ was something that was welcomed - so now as an atheist, if I lose friends by boldly proclaiming atheism, is that an indication I am on the right path?

This is because when I write something, I want it to be compelling reading that invites you to read further, something that makes you want to respond, or at least something that challenges pre-conceived ideas.

I believe in the free exchange of ideas. No-one ever became more wise and intelligent by putting blinkers on and telling everybody else to shut up.

However, in the course of exploring my atheism, I have come up with some hard questions that have made Christians squirm and struggle answer properly - or worse, have seen Christians put the blinkers on, then want you to be more wise and intelligent by shutting up and not exploring ideas.

I'm going to put some of these hard questions below.

If anyone reading this have answers to my questions, I am more than happy to go over your answer, and if you have some challenging questions of your own, I am more than happy to accept and try answer it myself.

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On the topic of evolution by common descent:

The topic of evolution is a goldmine for challenging Christian fundamentalist belief. 

For me, whenever I have engage in a debate on the theory of evolution, this is one I throw out:

If God came down and spoke to you personally to tell you that evolution was how he did things, would you still be an anti-evolutionist?

The reasoning behind this question is to show that it is not evidence that an anti-evolutionist looks for when researching anti-evolution ideas, but validation.

The other reason behind this question is to show that God never comes down to reason with people. God seemingly leaves everything up to fallible interpretation of the Bible, which has been interpreted by fallible humans using fallible translation heuristics.

I did get an answer once, which was along this line:

"God, if evolution was how you did things, then why didn't you leave any evidence?"


To which I replied:
I can only imagine God saying to you:
"I gave you fossil evidence, DNA evidence, phylogenetics, embryology, homology, even vestigial organs. Do you know why humans have a vomeronasal organ does? I don't! Heck, I even made you 97% similar to chimpanzees!".


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On proof for God:

Whenever I have debated someone on the concept of proof for God, I have found I am usually able to stop conversations with the following question:

Give me a particular piece of evidence or a proof for the Christian God that could not be applied to the gods of other religions.

Give me a proof for your God that could not also be proof for someone else's god!

The reason behind these questions are two-fold:

1. The best case for God is not found in objective evidence that can be scientifically evaluated - but in philosophy (Argument from Design, Argument from Morality, The Transcendental Argument, The Ontological Argument, Argument From First Cause, et al).

That's not to say that I think philosophical arguments for God are convincing. All I am saying that the best and most studied arguments for God are philosophical, not scientific.

2. The best evidence that a Christian can give for their God supports, at best, a vague Deism - there is a God, but all this God did was create the initial conditions of this universe, then left the universe to its own devices, and not interfere or intervene in human affairs.

But then, put simply, if there is a supreme being that created the universe, that supreme being is not the Christian God - for it is the Christian God that allegedly intervenes in daily affairs.

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On charging God with doing evil:

A common reply to my attempts to paint the all-knowing, all-loving and all-kind God as a genocidal psychopath is to say that because God knows everything, God is justified in doing whatever it is that is necessary to achieve his plans.

To which I reply:

Imagine a hypothetical scenario in which aliens came to invade Earth. 
In the dead of night, the aliens come to take your loved ones away for testing, which you know will involve a lot of pain and their likely death.

Knowing what is about to happen to your loved ones, would you let these aliens take them away, or would you fight back to try ensure their survival?


Bear in mind that these aliens have superior knowledge - they know more than you and have a higher understanding of their action.
They also have superior weaponry - so any attempt at fighting back may result in your suffering as well.

You want to know what responses I have got to this scenario?

"Have these aliens shown a willingness to be identified with humanity?"

"Do these aliens have my best interests at heart?"

Which are both ways of saying that because God is (to the responder) kind and loving, God has a free pass to whatever he likes to people - up to and including causing their premature death.

To me, this is:

1. A case of "the means justify the ends". Sure, God can put me and my loved ones through severe pain and suffering. But he puts me and my loved ones through suffering because he cares for me.
But if nothing is impossible with God (Luke 1:37), why can't God demonstrate his love for mankind in a way that minimises suffering?

2. Giving God a free pass, simply because he's God.

3. Not actually answering the question. Would you fight back against the aliens to stop your loved ones suffering, even if it meant you may suffer in the process?

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Until next time, stay healthy and rational.

-Damien

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