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Author Topic:   Straightforward, hard-to-answer-questions about the Bible/Christianity
slevesque
Member (Idle past 2714 days)
Posts: 1456
Joined: 05-14-2009


Message 1 of 477 (547821)
02-23-2010 12:39 AM


Ok, so I was reading the thread about question times in churches and during sermons and it got me thinking of makingthis thread.

It's pretty simple. My church is having an apologetics course this semester starting on the 3rd of march. We already had one the previous semester which was more on a theoretical approach to apologetics, but now they wanna do a practical approach.

How it will work is that we will ask each others objections to christianity and answer them in small groups. (or something like that) Anyways, I just wanted to get a list from here of the hardest questions you can find about it all.

A single condition would be that the questions don't require tons of outside research to answer. More stuff that is directly linked to Bible references and stuff like that.

An easy example would be about God killing Babies in the Old testament. I'm sure the bunch of atheists on here can easily give the number1 reason they don't believe in the christian God.

(I'll be trying to come back and give the answers the people gve to the questions.)

Dunno where to put this. Coffee house maybe ? Faith and belief ?


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Message 2 of 477 (547824)
02-23-2010 3:54 AM


Thread Copied from Proposed New Topics Forum
Thread copied here from the Straightforward, hard-to-answer-questions about the Bible/Christianity thread in the Proposed New Topics forum.
Modulous
Member (Idle past 178 days)
Posts: 7789
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005


Message 3 of 477 (547825)
02-23-2010 6:15 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by slevesque
02-23-2010 12:39 AM


A single condition would be that the questions don't require tons of outside research to answer. More stuff that is directly linked to Bible references and stuff like that.

There are plenty of resources for contradictions/inconsistencies within the Bible, if that was the kind of thing you were looking for. For example, what did Jesus say, if anything, while on the cross, who discovered the empty tomb and what did they do with that revelation?

If you want challenging stories then I tend towards Numbers 16 where the Israelites are growing concerned with the leadership of Moses and Aaron and the people that have died under it (ie., the Korah incident) . The LORD Yahweh decides that the appropriate response to this leadership crisis was to execute 15,000 people in a slow horrible fashion.

It doesn't cause me to disbelieve in the God-entity, but it does lead me to reject him as a moral authority.


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Jumped Up Chimpanzee
Member (Idle past 3016 days)
Posts: 572
From: UK
Joined: 10-22-2009


Message 4 of 477 (547826)
02-23-2010 6:53 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by slevesque
02-23-2010 12:39 AM


Why & how did Jesus have to die for our sins?
Hi Slevesque

I have a general question about the biblical depiction of God. It's one I've asked before on this site but didn't get an answer.

If God is perfect, how did he make us imperfect (in his eyes) and why does that make him angry?

If God was perfect, he'd be happy all the time because he wouldn't make anything that was imperfect or, if he did, it could only have been deliberate. He would deliberately make everything exactly as he wanted.

He can't be both perfect and angry.


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Percy
Member
Posts: 18307
From: New Hampshire
Joined: 12-23-2000
Member Rating: 3.2


Message 5 of 477 (547829)
02-23-2010 7:43 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by slevesque
02-23-2010 12:39 AM


slevesque writes:

I'm sure the bunch of atheists on here can easily give the number1 reason they don't believe in the christian God.

One doesn't have to be an atheist to reject the God of Christian evangelicals.

--Percy


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ZenMonkey
Member (Idle past 2584 days)
Posts: 428
From: Portland, OR USA
Joined: 09-25-2009


(1)
Message 6 of 477 (547830)
02-23-2010 8:11 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by slevesque
02-23-2010 12:39 AM


Poisoning the well?
slevesque writes:

An easy example would be about God killing Babies in the Old testament. I'm sure the bunch of atheists on here can easily give the number1 reason they don't believe in the christian God.

I'm not sure what you're after here. Do you want reasons why atheists have no belief in your Christian god (or any god, for that matter)? Or do you want reasons why some people find the Christian god particularly objectionable? They're not the same thing.

If it's the former, then my own personal answer would be that there's no positive evidence for the existence of any being remotely like the Christian deity.

There is no way to disprove the existence of an omnipotent being, since it would be free to shape reality at will. There's no way to disprove Last-Thursdayism. But although human knowledge is imperfect, so far science hasn't come across any phenomena that either can't be explained by natural, unguided causes or at least are impossible to explain by natural causes. Arguments against the sufficiency of natural causes seem to come down to arguments from ignorance ("I don't know how that works - or won't look it up - so it must be God"), arguments from consequences ("I wouldn't like that if it were true, so it must not be true") or arguments from incredulity ("I can't - or won't let myself - believe that, so must not be true").

Basically, God hasn't left any fingerprints.

But if it's the latter, if you want to know why rational people find the idea of Christian god so repugnant, look no farther than the existence of Hell.

Almost any human being is capable of more love and mercy than a creature that would sentence other sentient beings to eternal torment for what is essentially the crime of being human in the first place. And don't pretend that it doesn't come down to that - it's a cornerstone of Christian faith that no one is free of sin, and only the unmerited intercession of Christ can save people from Hell. I can't imagine any evil deed, no matter how heinous, that would merit genuinely eternal, unending torment. That the Christian god expends such intense wrath on the vast majority of humanity makes him a monster. Most human beings appear morally superior to such a vengeful, nasty creature. I find it hard to fathom the ability of Christians to go on and on about how loving this God is.

However, it's a mistake to assume that an atheist doesn't believe in God BECAUSE God (the Christian God, anyway) is so morally repulsive. That's the fallacy of the argument from consequences again. It's actually incredibly irritating to hear Christians assert that way deep down all atheists really do believe that God exists, they just want to deny it because they love sin so much. It's insulting.

So given all that, I'll reformulate the second type of question. What is just or loving about a God that delivers people to eternal torment who, by reason of chronology and/or geography, have had literally no way at all of hearing about Christ, even though Christ is the only way to eternal life?

I've heard the following answers, none of which I find satisfying:

"That's why it's so important to spread the Word to everyone!"

"Everyone has the truth about God written on his heart."

"Instead of worrying about the Chinese 3000 years ago, why aren't you worrying about your own salvation instead?"

"But God is perfectly holy, so He can't stand sin in His presence."

"I don't know - but I'm sure that God has a plan."

Can you come up with anything better than that?


I have no time for lies and fantasy, and neither should you. Enjoy or die.
-John Lydon
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Stile
Member
Posts: 3392
From: Ontario, Canada
Joined: 12-02-2004
Member Rating: 3.5


(1)
Message 7 of 477 (547831)
02-23-2010 8:21 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by slevesque
02-23-2010 12:39 AM


Big decisions require responsibility which requires verification
slevesque writes:

How it will work is that we will ask each others objections to christianity and answer them in small groups. (or something like that) Anyways, I just wanted to get a list from here of the hardest questions you can find about it all.

...

I'm sure the bunch of atheists on here can easily give the number1 reason they don't believe in the christian God.

My most difficult obstacle preventing belief in the Christian God:

How can you place the most important aspect of your life (everything that identifies "you"... your soul) on the line for something that can't be verified?

Maybe it's just me, but that's my big dilemma that I really don't understand how others get past. That question sums it up, but I will attempt to add further detail here:

When I make light decisions, I really don't fact-check much at all. I don't really care if I see this movie or play that video game in my free time. It's fun and all, but it doesn't really matter. For such light decisions, I don't do much research or verification before applying myself in their direction. If I'm wrong, it doesn't really matter and I can just correct it the next day.

When I make big decisions, I do lots of fact checking and verification. When things matter, I need to make sure all the i's are dotted and the t's are crossed. I find anything less to be... irresponsible. For example, when I purchased my house I researched the different companies and subdivisions in my price range. I read all the fine-print myself and double-checked all the lawyer proceedings. Even the house-selling-guy said something like "no one ever reads the fine print..." But, to me, this was a huge decision. I've never spent so much money before. It will take me 15-20 years of my life to pay it off, it's a big decision to me. I'm not about to simply trust someone else when I'm putting my life, and the life of my family, on the line. For big decisions like this, I need verification that my family and myself are not going to be screwed over or have our time and investment wasted. I'm required to be responsible and mature about such big decisions.
I'm sure you would agree that it would be irresponsible for me to make such a large decision without verification of any of the facts presented to me that surround such an issue.

This is my problem with believing in the Christian God (or any God). Everything that is me (my soul) is rather important to me. It's a big decision for me to invest my soul and passion into something as important and life-changing and possibly life-consuming as religion. Therefore, in order to be responsible and mature about it, I require an adequate level of verification.

But how can you get verification for something that is, fundamentally, unverifiable? I cannot see God, I cannot talk to God, I cannot read God's fine-print where they define all terms and leave no room for alternate interpretations. There's the Bible, there's history, there's current religions, and there's what lots of people today talk about. But, looking at it objectively, none of these current religions or Bible's or religious people agree on much. Therefore, obviously, there's no point of verification. If there was a real, actual point of objective verification, then everybody, everywhere would agree completely. Just like how everybody, everywhere agrees completely that objects in free-fall on planet Earth will accelerate at 9.8m/s^2 until their terminal velocity is reached. It's objectively verifiable. With all the different interpretations of religion, the Bible and even God himself, it's self-evident that there is no point of verification. If there were such a point of verification, there wouldn't be "different religions". The fact that different religions exist shows that there is no objective point of verification.


I find the two following items to be facts:

1. What I decide to do with my life and soul is important and therefore I should make responsible, mature decisions about such things.

2. The Christian God, the Bible, other God's and all religions are inherently unverifiable. Therefore, it is impossible to make objective, informed decisions about which one is "better" or "true" or "good".

These two facts lead me to an impasse where I am unable to make a responsible, mature decision to believe in the Christian God (or any God).

Do you understand my dilemma? I do not understand how anyone can possibly make a responsible, mature decision based upon something that cannot be verified. None of us do it for any other big decision in our lives. Why do so many of us do it where religion is concerned?

Basically, I cannot be responsible and mature and also believe in the Christian God, and such a decision seems rather important to me, so I cannot get around the dilemma.

Edited by Stile, : Added bolding around basic question, as requested by slevesque for ease of review.


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anglagard
Member
Posts: 2185
From: Socorro, New Mexico USA
Joined: 03-18-2006


Message 8 of 477 (547832)
02-23-2010 8:29 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by slevesque
02-23-2010 12:39 AM


Paper, Over and Under
I have one, perhaps two (as in gluing two religions together, and then ignoring both in favor of mere commentary from those with diagnosable conditions under the DSM-IV-TR).

Why doesn't the 'church' stop using the Ten Commandments (particularly that one about bearing false witness) and the Sermon on the Mount (particularly about feeding the poor, healing the sick and bringing peace where once was strife) as toilet paper?

My objection is not with the basic ideals of Christianity itself, it is with how it has been abused for selfish purposes. Makes one wonder how that OT god of wrath and jealousy could be asleep for so long, indeed perhaps rigor mortis has set in.

Edited by anglagard, : uncapitalize the term god in referring to the OT, since almost no one follows the rules (ultra-Orthodox Jews excepted), very few can honestly say they believe in this OT god.


The idea of the sacred is quite simply one of the most conservative notions in any culture, because it seeks to turn other ideas - uncertainty, progress, change - into crimes.
ó Salman Rushdie

This rudderless world is not shaped by vague metaphysical forces. It is not God who kills the children. Not fate that butchers them or destiny that feeds them to the dogs. Itís us. Only us. - the character Rorschach in Watchmen


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Buzsaw
Inactive Member


Message 9 of 477 (547834)
02-23-2010 8:38 AM
Reply to: Message 5 by Percy
02-23-2010 7:43 AM


Percy writes:

One doesn't have to be an atheist to reject the God of Christian evangelicals.

Christian evangelicals tend to take scripture literally unless context allows otherwise. The less literal one takes scripture, the more one rejects what is written about God so as to interject one's personal views.

In understanding God, majesty and designer of the Universe, one must consider what is best for the Universe at large relative to truth, justice, sin, righteousnes and judgement.

Perhaps tiny Planet Earth, tucked deep into one galexy among the billions is where the forces of evil in the universe will be dealt with. Revelation 12 seems to indicate so, war being waged in the heavens/cosmos between good and evil. Satan and his angelic army is cast to the earth, having great wrath, soon to be consigned to the Lake of Fire forever.

We will never fully understand God aside from the mystery of good and evil. He has a messianic kingdom planned for Planet Earth which explains why he needed to sanctify a land and city for that to be. Thus the calling out of Abraham into Caanan and all pertaining to that bloody history.

Relative to Jehovah, the Biblical god who is a jealous god, sooner or later, deception and false gods etc become dangerous and bloody, be it Christian deception as per the Dark Ages or otherwise as per Islam and isms such as secularistic communism, etc. History seems to attest to that.


BUZSAW B 4 U 2 C Y BUZ SAW.
The immeasurable present eternally extends the infinite past and infinitely consumes the eternal future.
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anglagard
Member
Posts: 2185
From: Socorro, New Mexico USA
Joined: 03-18-2006


Message 10 of 477 (547836)
02-23-2010 9:10 AM
Reply to: Message 9 by Buzsaw
02-23-2010 8:38 AM


Buzsaw writes:

Relative to Jehovah, the Biblical god who is a jealous god, sooner or later, deception and false gods etc become dangerous and bloody, be it Christian deception as per the Dark Ages or otherwise as per Islam and isms such as secularistic communism, etc. History seems to attest to that.

Considering your supposed support of human slavery as per the OT, are you not guilty of race-ism?

Also on a minor note, how come when you post about your favored deity you refuse to capitalize the word God?


The idea of the sacred is quite simply one of the most conservative notions in any culture, because it seeks to turn other ideas - uncertainty, progress, change - into crimes.
ó Salman Rushdie

This rudderless world is not shaped by vague metaphysical forces. It is not God who kills the children. Not fate that butchers them or destiny that feeds them to the dogs. Itís us. Only us. - the character Rorschach in Watchmen


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Peepul
Member (Idle past 3091 days)
Posts: 206
Joined: 03-13-2009


Message 11 of 477 (547838)
02-23-2010 9:29 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by slevesque
02-23-2010 12:39 AM


Slevesque,

that's a good idea for a thread!

For me a major concern is the nature of God as revealed in parts of the OT - partisan, sometimes punitive, and brutal. Mod's example is a good one but there are many others. Why is this a God we should respect and worship? Why is this 'good'?


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Jazzns
Member (Idle past 1985 days)
Posts: 2657
From: A Better America
Joined: 07-23-2004


(1)
Message 12 of 477 (547839)
02-23-2010 10:13 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by slevesque
02-23-2010 12:39 AM


Losing the faith
I guess I call myself Christian more as a legacy now and for my family. But one of the biggest reasons for me sliding away from my faith is that there is absolutly no way to differentiate between the God of the Jews and any other pagan deity.

1. Take any action that God does in the Bible.
2. Explain how that is better/different than something that one of the Greco/Romean pantheon of Gods would do.

The 2nd biggest question for me doesn't seem to fit into your criteria of minimal research. The ad-hoc editing, combining, collecting, and destruction of scripture means that the true textual revelation touted by Christians as authority for their beliefs does not actually exist.


If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be. --Thomas Jefferson
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Dr Adequate
Member
Posts: 16085
Joined: 07-20-2006
Member Rating: 10.0


(1)
Message 13 of 477 (547845)
02-23-2010 11:38 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by slevesque
02-23-2010 12:39 AM


Why I Do Not Worship Your God: A Summary
Well, I have various difficulties.

First of all, close your eyes and imagine a universe that was framed by love, that was fathered by justice, that was conceived by mercy, that was builded by righteousness ... and now open your eyes. See? We're obviously not living in that universe. It looks like we're living in a universe ruled by natural laws that don't give a tuppenny damn about us, and that the only justice and mercy we get is what we make ourselves.

Let me give you an example. I saw some Christian on the Internet saying that after the Haitian earthquake, her very first thought was to wonder what god the Haitians worship. (It turns out they're 97% Christian.) Whereas my first thought, after "Damn", was to wonder what tectonic fault they lived next to. And I was right. To the true believer, it's a constant mystery why their god sends earthquakes to people living next to tectonic faults, sends floods to low-lying coastal regions, and sends droughts to places that are hot and dry. To me, these questions are trivial, because I don't have to work a beneficient deity into my answer.

And second, and related to that, there's no evidence for a God, is there? It's not just that the evidence is ambiguous or difficult or capable of more than one interpretation ... there's nothing. Zilch. Bupkis. Nada. The people who ask me to believe in God are implicitly asking me to believe that there should be no discernible difference between the biggest and most important thing in the Universe ... and nothing at all. I don't buy it.

(I guess that this is why so many religious people cling to creationism. Yes, it may be completely stupid, but at least it gives them a reason to believe in some sort of supernatural being, albeit a hideously unpleasant one.)

Third, there's the question of the Bible-god in particular. Is there any need for me to go into details? Open the Old Testament at any page ... In order to believe that that is worthy of worship, I have to suspend not just my critical judgment, but also my moral judgment; because if that is good, then plainly I have no idea as to what is good and what is evil. Or, if it comes to that, any idea as to what is omniscient wisdom and what is asinine stupidity.

And, following on from that, shouldn't the real God be special? Should he not be clearly distinguishable from imaginary deities? But the Bible-god is just like every other tinpot tribal deity. He likes blood and animal sacrifice and blood and genital mutilation and blood and the nationalistic wars of the tribe that invented him and blood and inexplicable dietary taboos and blood and genocide and blood and human sacrifice and blood and blood and blood. And more blood. There's nothing about him that makes me want to say: "Ah, yes, Tezcatlipoca is clearly a primitive superstition, but Yahweh, now he's obviously the real deal". All these tribal deities are the same. Wouldn't the real God be different in some way from the gods we've made up?

Jesus I like. He is different. That's the one really compelling thing about the Christian mythos. But if Jesus really was the Old Testament god incarnate, then we ought to celebrate every Good Friday with cake and balloons and party squeakers. However, it's hard to believe that Jesus was the Old Testament god, because Jesus was nice, and never committed genocide at all, not even a little bit. The idea that they're the same person seems absurd on the face of it.


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Nuggin
Member (Idle past 566 days)
Posts: 2965
From: Los Angeles, CA USA
Joined: 08-09-2005


Message 14 of 477 (547848)
02-23-2010 11:41 AM
Reply to: Message 13 by Dr Adequate
02-23-2010 11:38 AM


Re: Why I Do Not Worship Your God: A Summary
Let me give you an example. I saw some Christian on the Internet saying that after the Haitian earthquake, her very first thought was to wonder what god the Haitians worship. (It turns out they're 97% Christian.)

Ironically, this Christian woman is violating her own religion by even suggesting that the Haitian could worship a different God.


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New Cat's Eye
Inactive Member


Message 15 of 477 (547856)
02-23-2010 1:09 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by slevesque
02-23-2010 12:39 AM


Why does god rely on faith, as opposed to showing himself to us (more)?
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