“What Satan put into the heads of our remote ancestors was the idea that they could ‘be like gods’ – could set up on their own as if they had created themselves – be their own masters – invent some sort of happiness for themselves outside God, apart from God. And out of that hopeless attempt has come nearly all that we call human history – money, poverty, ambition, war, prostitution, classes, empires, slavery – the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God to make him happy” (C.S. Lewis, 1952, pp. 48).
A group of vocal atheist YouTubers posted a video on the Non Sequitur Show YouTube channel entitled “Questions no Christians Can Answer! An Atheist Creators’ Collaboration.” In the video, fifteen atheists who are popular on YouTube and/or social media each presented what they considered to be their most compelling questions for Christians. We have listed these questions below and have responded. Some of the questions are not in the order in which they were originally presented – as some were slightly redundant, so we have reorganized them by topic, yet the numbering reflects the original chronology. What is exciting about this blog is the views of Christians from many different sects are represented, from the more Orthodox and traditional views to the more contemporary. We have comments from various sects of Christianity representing Catholicism, Southern Baptists, Anglicans, Calvinists, Mormons, Eastern Orthodox and Messianic Jews with both liberal and conservative viewpoints. Enjoy!
Eve Keneinan: The subject before us is “Questions No Christian Can Answer.” Presumably, these questions, posed by atheists, are meant to show there is some sort of problem with Christianity, if it turns out that these questions cannot be answered by Christians. However, this would be the case only if the questions posed are questions that specifically have something to do with what Christians claim to know or believe. It would not be any kind of objection to Christianity if a Christian were unable to answer a question that no one can answer. It would also not impugn the Christian faith if the answer to a question is simply “I don’t know.” As Christians, we believe that God has revealed Himself is history, first through his interactions with the Hebrew people, and most fully as Jesus Christ, God incarnate. During His time on earth, Jesus was primarily a teacher, and his “disciples” were students. The Greek word usually translated as “disciple” is μαθητής (same root as ‘mathe-matics’), which literally just means “student.” Similarly, the word “apostle” means “messenger.” So we Christians believe that God in his role as a teacher, taught human beings certain things, and since God is all-knowing and all-truthful, we hold these things are true. We also believe that God has revealed certain things through certain divinely inspired writings, which we collectively refer to as Holy Scripture, or “The Holy Books”, τὰ βιβλία τὰ ἅγια, which is plural, books, which fact is important since the books of the “the holy books” comprise a library which spans many genres, many authors, and many centuries. Beyond what we think God has revealed in this way, Christians claim no other privilege in answering questions. So any questions that do not touch directly on these teachings have little or no bearing on Christianity, since they apply equally to everyone.
Scientific Evidence Versus Christianity
- (Steve McRae) “If God is going to be positive as an explanation for human existence, then by what mechanisms, meaning by what activities and interactions that are organized in such a way that produced humans did God use and by what means could we discover those mechanisms?” …“An explanation of a phenomenon usually requires some type of mechanism that explains the phenomenon. So if God is posited as an explanation for human existence, what mechanisms did He use? If one posits naturalistic mechanisms we know exist, then why [do you] have God as an explanation?”
Scott Adams: God’s existence didn’t become known to us just from observing the natural world. He revealed himself to us both directly and through angelic and prophetic messengers. Our understanding of Him comes not just through observing the universe around us, which it does appear He used natural processes to create, but more largely through the revelation He gives us in the form of scripture and personal revelation. We can learn about Him to a degree when we observe His creation – and marvel at that creation – but real knowledge and understanding of Him comes only as we prayerfully ponder and study the scriptures, and ask for Him to reveal Himself to us.
Andrew Stratelates: God is the ultimate cause of everything, the comprehensibility of any mechanism to show this causal change is secondary (although science may reveal some of it).
Bill Shaw: Naturalistic mechanisms face huge challenges in explaining the origin of life. For example, there are 20 amino acids used in protein formation, and they have to be in the correct order for a protein to function. For a small protein of, say, 100 amino acids long, a huge number of possible combinations would have to combine, and recombine, before one small protein molecule could arise through time and chance alone.
JJ Richards: A mechanism doesn’t and cannot rule out an agency that created such a mechanism. I’d even assert that a mechanism, in all of its complication makes a designer far more likely than not. So to say that an agency is needed to make a complex mechanism is a natural intuition.
Sy Garte: The rationale behind the origin of modern science was to understand the mechanisms by which God created a working (“Good”) universe. Newton, Boyle, Faraday, Maxwell, and all the other Christian scientists used as their working hypothesis that the universe was orderly and lawful. All assumed that God was the agency behind those mechanisms. If that is not true, then all of nature responds to laws and mechanisms that have no explanation. They just are, is the answer usually given, which is no answer at all.
Friendly Beard: the first question reveals a complete misunderstanding of who God is and the relationship between science and God. The mechanisms we discover in the universe are the tools He used. Science is merely a human endeavor of discovering the universe God created.
John Dunfee: This is the most interesting question of this list, but it commits the category error. This is a question that does not apply to God because God is not made of parts like a computer or a car. These are physical things that have the mechanism that Steve is asking that God would have. God is an immaterial being, so he does not have mechanisms like physical things. If something can only be known based on mechanisms, then we have a problem with this epistemology. What are the mechanisms of matter taking space? How does matter take up space? You have to say that it just does. God can make things ex nihilo because He is omnipotent. A better form of this question would be, what predictions could the God hypothesis make? Some predictions that could be made are as follows: if we found a universe that is fine-tuned, it had a beginning ex nihilo. If we found a universe in which objective moral truths exist or if we found a universe in which humans have libertarian free will, these could be explained by God. These would be some predictions, or at least observations that Theism would account for. If you ask how God is omnipotent, omniscient, or omnipresence, I would not have an answer because it commits the category error. If we can’t answer how matter takes up space, then we don’t have to neglect its existence just because there’s an unanswered question. God is an ontological and metaphysical being, so physics cannot explain God’s attributes because God is beyond physics.
Eve Keneinan: The problem with the question of “mechanisms,” even glossed as “activities and interactions,” is that it seems badly posed. It has built into it the assumption that God has “activities and interactions,” in the same way processes that occur in time do. But God is not in time, so we would not necessarily expect God to employ any ‘mechanisms’ which we can understand.
So the simplest answer is “I don’t know, and neither does anyone else but God.” We know that God did create the cosmos and everything in it, and He did so through His Λόγος, “word”, “speech” or “reason”, which is also Christ—So Christianity teaches that the created cosmos/nature will be fundamentally and thoroughly rational. It will be the sort of universe wherein there are, in fact, explanations for things, the kind of things the questioner here is asking for. I am interested to know why the atheist questioner expects there to be such things, the very things he is asking for here, in the first place.
My admission that I do not know how God brought about the things He did does not, as far as I can see, impugn my knowledge that God did so. Let me take a passage from Christian philosopher Alvin Plantinga to illustrate this: we encounter a similar interaction problem everyday, when dealing with the relationship of the mind to the body, namely, we all believe (except perhaps a few kooks) that a person’s decision to φ (an action) has something to do with his φing, and at the same time have no idea about the ‘mechanism’ that connects a mental decision to φ with the physical or bodily activity of φing. Plantinga (1974) uses the example of his neighbor Paul mowing his lawn:
“Take an analogy. I believe that there is a connection of some sort between Paul’s deciding to mow the lawn and the complex group of bodily movements involved in so doing. But what connection, exactly? Does his decision cause these bodily movements? If so, how? The decision may take place long before he so much as sets foot on the lawn. Is there an intermediary causal chain extending between the decision and the first of these movements? If so, what sorts of events make up this chain and how is the decision related, let’s say, to the first event in it? Does it have a first event? And there are whole series of bodily motions involved in mowing the lawn. Is his decision related in the same way to each of these motions? Exactly what is the relation between his deciding to mow the lawn-which decision does not seem to be a bodily event at all-and his actually doing so? No one, I suspect, knows the answer to these questions. But does it follow that it is irrational or unreasonable to believe that this decision has something to do with that series of motions? Surely not.”
Alvin Plantinga. God, Freedom, and Evil (Kindle Locations 104-110). Kindle Edition.
We presumably agree that a person’s decision to do an action is in some very important way connected to his doing it. We regularly and necessarily distinguish between intentional and unintentional actions, for example, cases of action in which the person’s decision to φ led to his φing and cases where it did not. We are, at this time, entirely at a loss to explain how mental events like decisions come about at all (‘by what mechanisms’) and also how (‘by what mechanisms’) these mental events, decisions, result in physical bodily activities. But we are not irrational or unreasonable for thinking they do.
Knowing that God created human beings does not entail knowing how God created human beings, anymore than knowing that my neighbor’s decision to mow his laws entails knowing how his mental decision brings about the physical and bodily activities involved in mowing his lawn.
In short, Christians claim to know only that God created the cosmos and everything in it, including human beings, but not how He did so. So my answer is “I don’t know” and “The fact that I do not know this does not undermine my belief that it is the case, no more than my ignorance as to how the mind affects the body and vice versa undermines my belief that the mind and body do causally interact.”
Abraham’s Holy Terror: This subject often invokes or dances around the “God of the Gaps” idea. It is important to acknowledge that God includes both the known and the unknown. The Christian attributes the existence of math, art, minds, humans, animals, vegetation, water, fire, ethics, chemistry, biology, astrophysics, mad libs, & everything else to God – it is consistent to apply it to the unknown as well.
God, being the Creator, is the “First Cause,” so to speak, of existence in the broadest sense imaginable. Residing before or beyond existence, it is self-evident that all things within that creation, including humans, can find an explanation & relation in The First Cause. Life, though mysterious, is very distinguishable from the rest of the cosmos. The emergence of life remains a unanswered & unlikely event. Part of what distinguishes humans from other animals is that we have the capacity to ask, “What is God?” “Is this real?” The emergence of a consciousness that can utilize nature or circumvent it; that finds profundity in art, & story; that certainly has at least some degree of agency (otherwise this conversation is determined and pointless) – is the great monkey wrench in the apparent clockwork causality of the cosmos. We have the capacity for sub-authoring our own lives & creations outside of ourselves (stories, structures, etc). This sub-authoring is in the image of the Great Author.
Naturalistic mechanics, as an explanation, are encapsulated within God or within the religious explanation. This keeps the naturalistic explanations intact, preserving them while allowing room for update or discovery of error. The religious narrative maintains an abstract meta-truth as the infinite/eternal goal, stimulating refinement & understanding of the naturalistic explanations. By understanding naturalistic mechanics better, or creation better, we understand The Creator better. When we read a novel we get an window into the mind of the author. When we renovate a home, we discover the work-ethic of the original builders.
A big challenge with these talks is the broad differences in usage of important terms like God.
Please click here to see another answer: https://christian-apologist.com/2018/05/08/a-christian-answers-a-question-an-agnostic-said-could-not-be-answered/
- (Holy Koolaid) “Truth doesn’t fear curiosity testing on doubt, which inoculates us against charlatans and scams, but if your beliefs stand up to scrutiny, then why is doubting Thomas vilified as the bad guy for utilizing the scientific method – while the rest of the disciples are congratulated for following like blind sheep?”
Scott Adams: I believe God does expect us to reason and scrutinize. He gave us all minds capable of reason and which seem innately programmed to be curious. I know then that it seems a paradox to many atheists that we are commanded to have faith in light of that. I believe that comes down to a complete misunderstanding of what faith in Christ is. It does not mean blind obedience without any evidence. (I can already hear the murmur of so many reading this).
This might be a lame example but it should illustrate what I mean. If you recall the scene in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade where Indiana steps off the cliff onto the invisible bridge, this would appear at first to be blind faith. Indiana, with nothing more to guide him than notes in a book steps into seeming nothingness. And yet, he lands on a bridge not previously detectable until his foot hits it. He did not act though without evidence. He had his father’s notebook to guide him – and he had the past experience both of dealing with his father and of traversing the previous obstacles placed before him to give him a cause to trust the notes his father had taken. He had cause to believe that like before, action based on the notes his father had taken would be rewarded with a very real result which would strengthen his faith further. He did not know what would happen as he stepped off the cliff. He trusted what he believed to be there – and yet he could not see for himself what would happen before taking that step.
Our faith in Christ works the same way. It begins as a small seed we plant with a simple act of faith. Maybe it’s something as simple as offering a prayer, or reading the scriptures with real intent. The holy ghost enters our hearts and we feel a stirring from within. That causes us to repent of past wrongs and a commitment to live God’s commandments. As we do so we find the promise of the scriptures fulfilled given by Christ that when we do the will of the Father that we will know that the doctrine comes from Him. Slowly, but surely, we feel our little seed of faith begin to grow and take root – strengthened by the real confirmations from God that we are known to Him and that He loves us – which causes to to trust Him further in the occasions where the unseen causes us to draw on that now strengthened faith to push through the unknown.
Thomas had experiences to draw from; the lesson to Him was to trust in what he did know before casting it all aside.
Andrew Stratelates: Thomas the apostle is my confirmation saint. He was not vilified by Christ, but rather provided what he needed to believe. Christ also said that those who believe without seeing were blessed (fortunate). Let us also go, that we might die with Him. Now, that’s some faith!
John Dunfee: Is Blind Faith still an option though based on the verses? I think not, but there is a common verse that people will try to point out that Christianity is based on Blind Faith. Both Christians and atheists will try point this out by either showing that Christianity is irrational or that we must believe without evidence, which is not the truth at all.
John 20: 24-29
“Now Thomas, called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said to him, ‘We have seen the Lord.’
So he said to them, ‘Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.’
And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, ‘Peace to you!’ 27 Then He said to Thomas, ‘Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.’
And Thomas answered and said to Him, ‘My Lord and my God!’
Jesus said to him, ‘Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.’”
This is when Thomas is doubting and Jesus said “blessed are those who have not seen, but yet believe.” While at face value this may seem to be promoting blind faith. All it really shows is that Jesus is okay with those who believe in him and have not seen him. It stills shows that faith is based on evidence because He appeared to Thomas as evidence that He rose from the dead to show that even Thomas still would not believe even though he had overwhelming evidence. It actually shows not to have unreasonable faith because Thomas still was believing that Jesus had not been raised from the dead, which would be unreasonable faith because Jesus appeared to all 11 of the disciples and we all know that 11 people cannot hallucinate something at the same time. Plus, the next verse says this to encourage us to have a forensic faith.
“And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.”
It shows that Jesus did all the miracles (evidence that He is divine) to show why you should believe in Him on the foundation of evidence.
Christianity encourages us to believe on the foundation of evidence for why it is true. (Excerpt from my article)
JJ Richards: Thomas was not belittled by Jesus for not believing without seeing. Jesus freely offered physical evidence. In fact all the disciples had a hard time believing. They should have had a hard time believing, because resurrection is a big deal. Throughout the OT, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob consistently asked for and were granted proofs of God and His will. According to scripture, we are to critically examine everything and hold on to the good. (1 Thess 5:21)
Bill Shaw: The other disciples did not follow ‘like sheep’; they also had evidence.
Peter and John had seen the empty tomb.
and Jesus appeared to them after his resurrection.
Abraham’s Holy Terror: Thomas isn’t vilified. His testament is an example of the many pathways of acceptance Christ offers. It is a forgiveness of doubt with an offering (even after suffering torture and crucifixion) of evidence. This suggests a deep desire from Christ for broad inclusion among different views. The rest of the disciples had their own challenges. Didn’t the women & Marys witness the Risen Christ first? And, weren’t all the disciples reluctant to believe such an incredible thing?
Philip Cottraux: Thomas isn’t really vilified in the Bible; in fact, he went on to be a great apostle for the Lord. His vilification over the years has been a product of Christian sermons over the centuries on his notorious incident in the aftermath of the resurrection, leading to the phrase “Doubting Thomas.”
- (Paulogia and Shannon Q) “Both of us believed in God and it meant everything to us. It colored how we saw the world. It gave us meaning and it gave us strength. Then one day we had questions. We had doubts – and they couldn’t be answered. We searched. We wanted to [believe] and we tried. We struggled to make ourselves believe again but we couldn’t pretend we did without knowing that it was a lie. So here is our question. Can a person simply choose to believe in something that they are not convinced of? If not, then God created our brains to require a certain level of evidence in order to be convinced. Why has He chosen to not provide that level of evidence for us, even though we both wanted to believe?”
Andrew Stratelates: If it’s a live option, yes. Eventually you’ll come to a point of things that must be affirmed to a greater degree than your subjective assessment of the confidence for it.
As Pascal and others have noted, the first step to faith is acting as though you believe, and this is most certainly under your volitional control, even if your subjective assessment is not.
SJ Thomason: An implicit assumption in these first few questions is that unless we have scientific evidence for God, that God can not be used as an explanation. We do not have physical evidence for God – as God is metaphysical. Consider other aspects of our lives that are not explained with scientific evidence: our objective moral values and duties, mathematics, logic, aesthetic apprehension, the reality of our past, and the existence of the external world. Though we lack scientific evidence for God, we do not lack in the spiritual experiences we have had that have brought us closer to God.
John Dunfee: First, it must be asked what evidence would convince you or what standards does your brain require for belief? Standards of evidence must be established for basic epistemology to work. It could be that you may not have come across the right evidence that would qualify as evidence for the existence of God. Perhaps the standards you hold to require proof beyond any doubt/absolute certainty. If so, then you require too much of God and He gives the amount of evidence that He wants. The question should rather be, what are the proper standards of evidence for believing in something and are those standards consistent with the belief in God? One’s presuppositions will change their standards of evidence, so one’s presuppositions must the right presuppositions.
JJ Richards: It also depends on your understanding of faith and belief. The Hebrew language has no “to be” verb forms in it. In other words, to the Ancient Jews, faith/belief was an action-oriented direction – a choice. Emunah – the Hebrew word usually used for OT faith, means faithfulness, trust, etc. You can actually, even if you aren’t sure you believe it in your head, act as if it’s true and live in such a way that glorifies God. That is biblical faith, to bring about redemption of the world through telling others about what God does, did and is doing, helping the victimized, the poor, the widow, those in need, ease suffering in the world, and helping people change their lives by inviting them into relationship with Yeshua (Jesus). Often we think of faith as in our heads, but this is not the way biblical faith was until the Greeks got a hold of it. A wise Messianic Rabbi told me, “Do not put Descartes before the horse.” In other words, while Descartes may have said, “I think therefore I am.” The OT Jews and first Christians would say, “I live therefore I act.”. I think you’d also be wise to conduct an ‘devotional experiment’. If you were to live your life in such a way where you acted and lived purposely as if Christianity is true (for say 6 months), I’ll bet you’d be mightily persuaded by its positive impact on your heart, mind and soul.
CS Lewis (1952, pp. 135): “When you come to knowing God, the initiative lies on His side. If He does not show Himself, nothing you can do will enable you to find Him. And, in fact, He shows much more of Himself to some people than to others – not because He has favorites, but because it is impossible for Him to show Himself to a man whose whole mind and character are in the wrong condition. Just as sunlight, though it has no favorites, cannot be reflected in a dusty mirror as clearly as in a clean one.”
Abraham’s Holy Terror: “Can a person simply choose to believe in something that they are not convinced of?” If you mean, can they accept an intellectual claim or the imagery of a narrative that they are not convinced of – then I would say reflexively no. Although, any claim or narrative can be temporarily accepted in the imagination or contemplation in the effort to understand or “try it on.” We do this every time we watch a movie and identify with any of the characters. We do this any time we read piece of philosophy or poetry. We don’t need 100% axiomatic belief to do that.
“If not, then God created our brains to require a certain level of evidence in order to be convinced.” What constitutes evidence for anything isn’t exactly clear cut. Also, everyone holds axiomatic principles that transcend proof/evidence.
“Why has he chosen to not provide that level of evidence for us, even though we both wanted to believe?” I don’t have the authority to explain God’s motives. I must ask, Why do you expect anything to be given to you in this life? How much could you really want alignment with the source of felicity with the assumption of its entitlement. Just because Christ suffered wrongful conviction, torture, and death in an effort to exemplify the ideal potentials and to rectify and redeem the sin of all mankind — it doesn’t exempt you from doing hard work yourself. Things like “enlightenment” or “awakening” or “communion with That Which Transcends” are challenges because we “gotta go through hell to get to heaven.” Valuable things aren’t easy.
This reminds me of a Zen story. A student asked his master, “I have been meditating for months. When will I experience enlightenment?” The master takes the student to the edge of the water and holds him under the surface until the student is frantically struggling to come up for breath. The master releases him and says when the student surfaces, “When you thirst for Enlightenment as much as you just thirsted for your vital breath – then you will find it.”
- (Genetically Modified Skeptic) “Among even the most fundamentalist of Christians there are always people who interpret some part of the Bible metaphysically, like in the Book of Job, they talk about the four corners of the earth. Christians, for the most part, interpret that as metaphorical because we know there are no four corners of the earth. So when we find something in the Bible that doesn’t necessarily reflect facts interpreted literally, how can we definitively tell that it was intended to be interpreted metaphorically and not literally and is actually a falsehood?”
Scott Adams: With some of the scriptures as we have them now there are cases where I’m not sure we can know what’s literal and what’s not in every case. I think in the first case it’s helpful to know how the people who wrote them at the time viewed them. We know that in some cases some of our scriptures were viewed even at the time as allegorical. I think what’s key is to understand what doctrine is being taught, and to have the Holy Ghost as a key to understanding the scriptures.
In the creation narrative for example, we don’t find a textbook on how to arrange RNA molecules to self replicate and develop the complexity to begin forming DNA and proteins to build simple cells. What we do see are Adam and Eve, our exemplars, the first couple who form a representation of each of us. What are the important lessons to learn from it? It appears that it was the narrative used in the first temple – so then what things do we need to learn from it? If you look for the doctrine you’re going to be a lot further ahead.
Andrew Stratelates: Christ didn’t write a series of books, but founded a civilization that then wrote a series of books. As such, you cannot properly interpret the texts of Christianity outside of Christianity itself.
John Dunfee: This question can be applied to any text. When do we know what any text means? This is called exegesis, which is to find out what a text originally meant. A text cannot mean what it never meant to the original audience. Job is a Jewish poetic book, so much of it is based on that literature, so it’s not a literal interpretation. The Gospels are historical narratives and written down as eyewitness accounts. Another type of symbolic book is the book of Revelation, which is Jewish apocalyptic literature. 1 Enoch is written is this style and would have been understood as very symbolic. The Bible was not written in one sitting, but rather written by 40 different authors over a 1500 year period. Different books require different interpretations depending on the type of literature and historical context of the book. A great book is How to Read the Bible, for learning how to do exegesis of the Bible.
JJ Richards: Hermeneutics
Friendly Beard: this question reveals a misunderstanding of the purpose of the scriptures. They were never intended to be scientific journals but theological truths. We hold creation/science and the Bible side by side and interpret both using both.
Abraham’s Holy Terror: Being as how Christians consider the Truth to be something sacred – the interpretation of the story that reveals the greatest and most full truth is to be considered of a higher order than one that misleads or reveals only a partial truth. This is one of the reasons that Christianity is such a strong way of life – if something is found out to be erroneous or misleading, then, by definition, it leads away from God or a transcendent truth. Therefore auto-correcting a mislabeled or misunderstood micro-system in the Great System is a righteous activity, i.e. scientific revolution/discovery is potentially righteous in that sense. How does anyone know when to distinguish between a metaphor and the literal? Truth does not exist in matter. We must use a metaphor to explore truth at all. In order to compare a metaphor with an objective naturalistic fact, we must use abstraction, not empiricism. The natural facts have relevance by being nested in a narrative or orientation that dictate values. That narrative or orientation is inevitably metaphorical or symbolic.
Christianity Versus Other Faiths
- (Lloyd Cedars) “What are your reasons for not being a Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist, or follower of the many other non-Christian faiths? Is it because you devoted enormous time and energy to systematically investigate and debunk all of those other religions? If you haven’t done that, how can you in all honesty claim that your religion is superior? And if you’re only a Christian because you happen to have been born into a Christian family or you were raised in a culture or society where Christianity is commonplace, what about all of the other people – who by a twist of fate – have been raised believing one of the many other religions that God has allowed to proliferate?”
Andrew Stratelates: Hinduism is not a live option, since you cannot convert to it. Islam lacks the natural theology that Christianity does, as well as confirmation of its prophets through consist miracles, Buddhism denigrates virtuous action to a point where heroism is lost to submission to a sort of Nothing.
More generally, if I know Christianity is true, I also know that anything that disagrees with Christianity is false. This would change if you can provide a defeater for Christianity (that is not itself defeated).
If you look to how someone is raised or the culture they are born is as a reason for their spiritual beliefs, then it’s equal to question whether you’d be an atheist if you were in say, paleolithic North America, and what, if anything, this has on the warrant for your beliefs.
SJ Thomason: This is an example of the genetic fallacy, which occurs when someone judges the beliefs of a person based on where the person came from. Atheists use the genetic fallacy when they state that Christians are Christians because of where they were born and raised. They try to invalidate Christian beliefs by stating how Christians came to those beliefs. Compare this with a person who attempts to invalidate someone’s beliefs in the earth as a globe by saying the fact they learned this information in an unaccredited school or on a television show makes the belief in the globe invalid.
JJ Richards: It is true that many people stay in the religions they grow up in. But that has little to do with whether a religion is true or not. It’s also impossible for them to have “the same evidence”(reference to question #7). They are different religions from different periods of history, backed by different amounts of evidence. One of the major differences that Christianity has from all the other religions is that it invites investigation. It has at the heart of it a possible disqualifier. If it happens to not be true, go do something else. Paul actually says in scripture that if Christ has not been raised then we are all as good as dead. (1 Cor 15:14) This is VERY strange in the world of religion. To all the other religions, the truth either can’t truly be investigated or it doesn’t really matter. In the OT if what a prophet said didn’t come to 100% fruition, or they got a prediction wrong, they were killed as charlatans. The NT stands or falls on Christs resurrection. These kind of possible disqualifiers, do not exist amongst the other major religions. If there is a God, I’d assume he’d not be afraid of investigation.
JJ Richards: Because if Christianity is true, then the other religions are false. I have excellent reasons to believe it’s true. Feelings have little to do with it.
CaptainAir727: I am not a Muslim or Hindu or Other because of the historicity, character, Truth and legacy of Jesus.
CS Lewis: “A universe that contains much that is obviously bad and apparently meaningless, but containing creatures like ourselves who know that it is bad and meaningless. There are only two views that face all the facts. One is the Christian view that this is a good world that has gone wrong, but still retains the memory of what it ought to have been. The other view is called Dualism. Dualism means the belief that there are two equal and independent powers at the back of everything, one of them good and the other bad, and that this universe is the battlefield in which they fight an endless war…The two powers, or spirits, or gods – the good one and the bad one – are supposed to be quite independent. They both existed from all eternity. Neither made the other, neither of them has more right than the other to call itself God…If Dualism is true, then the bad Power must be a being who likes badness for its own sake. But in reality we have no experienced of anyone who likes badness for its own sake. The nearest we can get to it is cruelty. But in real life people are cruel for one of two reasons – either they are sadists , that is, because they have a sexual perversion which makes cruelty a cause of sensual pleasure to them, or else for the sake of something they are going to get out of it – money, power, or safety. But pleasure, money, power, and safety are all, as far as they go, good things. The badness consists in pursuing them by the wrong method, or in the wrong way, or too much…And do you now begin to see why Christianity has always said that the devil is a fallen angel? That is not a mere story for the children. It is a real recognition of the fact that evil is a parasite, not an original thing. The powers which enable evil to carry on are powers given to it be goodness” (Lewis, 1952, pp. 43-45).
Abraham’s Holy Terror: After looking at Hinduism (especially Adviata Vedanta), Tibetan and Zen Buddhism, Occultism, and other traditions I personally find the richest, and most universally applicable framework is the Christian one. I acknowledge this could largely be due to my particular circumstances.
I haven’t spent large amounts of time trying to debunk other viewpoints. I’ve spent large amounts of time trying to understand how the world would look from their orientation. And, doing that – I believe that many religions are a tool, narrative, and/or framework that endeavors to assist the human in their investigation into the unknown and the absolute (hence the conflation with science).
I don’t claim Christianity or any religion to be superior. I claim that Christianity has provided me with the most inclusive and adaptable tool set or framework for understanding and navigating the world and has fertilized my personal relationship with the universe. I think investigating all other world-views fleshes out the Christian understanding and brings to light why it’s so robust, important, useful and true.
In regards to the last question – I share Sri Anandamayi Ma’s (Hindu spiritual leader) view, “How can one impose limitations on the infinite by declaring this is the only path—and, why should there be so many different religions and sects? Because through every one of them He gives Himself to Himself, so that each person may advance according to his inborn nature.”
Robert William Kleber: The differences between these other religions and the Christian religion is that at the heart of Christianity is a falsifiable miracle: the cross of Christ and his resurrection. These other worldviews like Hinduism or Buddhism make no falsifiable claim of how you know this belief set can be true.
There are only three religions that I currently know of that make that claim: Mormonism, Islam, and Christianity. Mormonism claims you’ll know it’s true with a burning in the bosom after praying to see if it is true. Islam claims that the Quran is perfectly preserved and it has never been changed and therefore is true. Christianity claims that Jesus of Nazareth died on the Cross, was buried, and physically rose from the dead.
Of these three live options only Christianity has an actual, historical event as the centerpiece to the whole thing: either Jesus rose from the grave or he is still dead. This means we should be able to test this objectively with the modern world. Mormonism’s claim to truth is really a subjective position, and Islam’s Hadith sources claim a sheep ate parts of the Quran that are now lost and not part of the “eternal” Quran. The reason we can claim Christianity is true is because if the resurrection happened, and Jesus claimed to be the way, the truth and the life, and nobody goes to the Father except through Him, then that means His resurrection is the proof to that claim to really know God. And if I may say so, the quickest way to have stopped this whole thing was to have grabbed Jesus’ body and parade through the streets until the disciples denied Christ all over again.
This Syllogism might not be perfect, but it’s to help demonstrate the point.
- If A is true, then B-Z are false.
- A is true.
- Therefore, B-Z are false. You cannot have A and B-Z be true at the same time.
10. (Professor Stick) “There are thousands of other religions out there, many of which have millions of followers. So according to your logic and their logic, anyone who is a blasphemer to your particular deity is going to be condemned whether it is to go to hell or to be reincarnated to a less intelligent animal. If your God is true, why is it that he would even allow the minds of humans to be so easily deceived to believe in other religions? He essentially would have created brains that can be fooled to ultimately send those people down to Hell. How do you know you’re not one of the people who has been fooled?”
Scott Adams: This is certainly an area where you are going to find a wide diversity of opinion, even in Christianity. I can only speak for my own faith here – but I don’t believe God will hold anyone accountable for things they never had a chance to learn. God is both perfectly just and perfectly merciful – and to those who would have accepted the gospel in this life if they had been given the chance He will make a way for them to accept Christ.
Andrew Stratelates: God, being All-Good, is aiming at a maximally good outcome. Permitting human error has been part of this plan from the earliest, I don’t understand how, exactly, allowing human error will allow for the maximally good outcome, but I can have an inkling through my understanding of what makes a good story (frustration and redemption) and what fosters my own affection (finding the lost sheep is better than not losing sheep to start with).
Bill Shaw: How do you know you’re not one of the people who’s been fooled? I can’t know I haven’t been fooled; but I’ve been a Christian for over 40 years, and I think the main reason I’ve remained a Christian is because I keep asking questions, and I keep getting answers. Another factor is that the alternatives are much less convincing; the more I look at atheism, for example, the weaker it gets. It says we’re the accidental products of time and chance; we’re machines (‘wet robots’ is a phrase that Jerry Coyne uses) with no free will and no basis for reason or values; and when we die, we rot. And why believe something without evidence? I keep asking atheists for their evidence – none provided so far.
SJ Thomason: Jesus Christ stated “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6). Many Christians believe that if one does not believe in Jesus by the day they die, that he or she will go to Hell. Other Christians, such as C.S. Lewis, feel that people will have the option to follow Jesus even after they die. If the former is true, such implications would apply to billions of people who walked the earth prior to Jesus’ arrival and to billions who have lived since in places in which other faiths were practiced. That would mean that of the billions of faithful, conscientious good-hearted people who happened to be born in the wrong place at the wrong time are destined for Hell.
Does that seem logical or fair? Is that really what the Bible says? Why would a loving God punish the innocent in such a cruel way?
1 John 4:8 says that God is love. He desires all men to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:4; 2 Peter 3:9). One of the Bible’s most famous verses (John 3:16) says “For God so loved the WORLD that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
Revelation 20:11-15 explains what will occur on judgment day. It states, “Then I saw a great white throne and Him who was seated on it. The earth and the heavens fled from His presence and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what they had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.”
We have all sinned and all fall short of the glory of God, yet even the sinners and the imperfect will be welcome in heaven. Ezekiel 37: 23 says, “They will no longer defile themselves with their idols and vile images or with any of their offenses, for I will save them from all their sinful backsliding, and I will cleanse them. They will be my people and I will be their God.”
Only God knows our hearts, so those who were not positioned in a place to find Jesus are likely to be included in the book of life.
Pope Pius XI (in Quanto conficiamur moerore): It is known to us and to you that those who are in invincible ignorance of our most holy religion, but who observe carefully the natural law, and the precepts graven by God upon the hearts of all men, and who being disposed to obey God lead an honest and upright life, may, aided by the light of divine grace, attain to eternal life; for God who sees clearly, searches and knows the heart, the disposition, the thoughts and intentions of each, in his supreme mercy and goodness by no means permits that anyone suffer eternal punishment, who has not of his own free will fallen into sin.
Yet those who denied Jesus after being given the opportunity to worship Him will not be included in the book of life. This is explained in Matthew 10 where Jesus instructs His twelve apostles to spread His message. He says “If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet. Truly I tell you, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town” (verses 14 and 15). “Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in Heaven. But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my father in Heaven” (Matthew 10: 32). In other words, it seems that people of all faiths will be given the opportunity to worship Jesus. However, those who deny Jesus’ divinity will be eternally separated from God.
Abraham’s Holy Terror: I do not see everyone who frames things differently as a blasphemer. I think a blasphemer is someone who disrespects – in action, language or symbol – that which is sacred. Regardless of the terms or symbols they use, if a person is living rightly: they are living rightly.
You seem to be asking why minds are not more simple than they currently are and why does deception exist. If you look at nature you see deception very far back on the evolutionary timeline (chameleons come to mind). This seems like less of a question and more of a complaint to Reality/Truth/God about the existence of deception and bad choices. You will inevitably walk the road to Hell when you do wrong things. If you’ve ever had a night of too much drinking or let lust and animal passions have sovereignty over your choices… it doesn’t take long to suffer the inevitable wrath.
In regards to the last question: Christian ideas encourage critical thinking and being wary of deception and even of people using Christian terminology in negative ways. How does anyone know they’re not being fooled? By taking responsibility for understanding things themselves – and/or aligning ourselves with those whom we admire – and/or engaging in disagreement to test the waters of things.
- (Luciano Gonzalez) “A variety of religions from ancient Greek beliefs to Native American beliefs both past and current account for gods that have relationships with their believers and with their servants. Why do you feel that the relationship that you have with Jesus Christ is somehow special or unique and somehow invalidates how all other believers feel about their gods and actions with their gods?”
Andrew Stratelates: It’s accepted in both classical pagan thought and to the Christian that religions may be organized and influenced by angels and lesser divinities, both good and bad. My relationship with Christ is different because Christ is The Logos made flesh. The Stoics come close, as do Taoists and shamans, but they all are missing on the wholeness of the faith.
I have no interest in mere gods, I am only interested in God.
JJ Richards: It is only the Judeo-Christian God who fits the bill of what we understand of the universe, the fallen nature of mankind, and our longing for significance. The other religions do not come close to answering the questions of being, morality and epistemology. The God of the Bible answers them not by some complex theology, but by His very nature.
Abraham’s Holy Terror: My belief and my relationship with the transcendent doesn’t invalidate others’ experiences with the absolute. This question is like asking, “Why do you think your relationship with your mate is unique and somehow invalidates all other’s feelings about their mates?” I simply have a relationship with Jesus Christ and it is special and unique to me. My only reason for telling others about it would be to share the unquantifiable felicity that spiritual awakenings & frameworks have provided to me.
Religions are like paths up a mountain. The peak of the mountain being realization of God or the Absolute. The paths all look different, especially at the start, but as we climb them the view becomes more similar. There are more challenging and more efficient paths. It is good that people choose what path to tread on their own.
- (Brilliant Doubt) “Why is it that the believers in every religion in history were wrong about their respective religion despite having the same conviction and evidence as you do for Christianity? It seems to me that you’re an atheist when it comes to all other religions in history but somehow the one that you happen to be born into is the correct one?”
Andrew Stratelates: Ancient religions are between 80% and 99% and none make as extreme of claims about Being Itself being incarnate in an historical Persona as Christianity does. The strongest evidence for the truth of Christianity, and the lacking of all other religions, is two fold: Christianity provides the most complete spiritual anthropology, description of what Man is, and of Natural Theology, how God is revealed through nature and human reason.
Albert Oon: Every religion doesn’t have the same evidence as Christianity. Christianity has history, science, and human behavior that revolves around redemption and sacrifice.
SJ Thomason: Christianity is distinct from other religions in some important ways: (1) unlike almost every other major religion (with the exception of Hinduism) in which beliefs came about from one man during one lifetime in one location, the Bible was written by 40 authors (many of whom were martyred for their beliefs) over 1500 years in three languages and in three continents. Multiple sources enhance validity; (2) the Christian Lord is active, unlike the passive supreme life force of Eastern beliefs; (3) the Christian Lord is personal and He is love, unlike Allah. The Quran never indicates that Allah is love or that Allah is personal. Instead Allah is aloof and no one has claimed to have seen him; (4) Christianity best explains good and evil. In Eastern faiths with yin and yang mindsets, good and evil are considered equal. Yet we know from our human experience that the light and love always overcome and are superior to darkness and evil. The Christian Lord is love and is superior to that which He has created, which includes evil (Lucifer); and (5) Jesus Christ.
Abraham’s Holy Terror: A better way of looking at this might be that historic religions have partial truths and Christianity has (or may have) a more full truth today. The people of antiquity were viewing a smaller frame.
A metaphor: after the Big Bang at some point atoms formed into existence, at this point in time atoms were the most true and complete things. Sometime afterward molecules formed. This does not make atoms wrong or invalid or broken. They are something contained in the greater whole; a necessary part of the development. They become a partial truth of a more whole truth.
- (Godless Cranium) “Why would an omnipotent, all powerful God need a human sacrifice to forgive people for sins? If this being is truly capable of doing anything and has unlimited power and resources and is all loving, why would it require a brutal torture and killing? Why would it need a blood sacrifice and not just simply forgive people for their sins – especially if it knew their motivations and could judge people according to their intentions?”
Scott Adams: God is both perfectly just and perfectly merciful. For each wrong act, each sin, there is a punishment affixed. That is an unchangeable law that God must abide to remain righteous and retain His power. A God who is unjust is no God at all. The point of Christ’s atonement is to provide a way for each of us to escape that punishment and return to God’s presence. It is a merciful gift. If we reject it we will suffer for our sins the same way Christ suffered so that each of us could be forgiven.
The whole of the gospel from beginning to end points towards this. Animal sacrifice in the Old Testament wasn’t to take on that sin, it was to point to Christ who would come and take that burden on himself. The purpose of animal sacrifice was to act as an allegory to teach the people about Christ’s coming atonement. Any sin, regardless of how seemingly insignificant, if unrepented of would keep us eternally from God without that price being paid. Christ’s atoning gift makes it possible for us to be reunited with our Heavenly Father.
Andrew Stratelates: In order to maintain both perfect justice and perfect mercy, there must be a source of infinite recompense to balance that which is justly deserved. Thus, Christ’s self-outpouring on the cross is necessary if we are to be forgiven and justice maintained.
Albert Oon: God forgives everyone without blood and shed His own to show His forgiveness and love for us.
JJ Richards: Justice.
- Sin, which is also considered lawlessness, violates the law established by God (1 John 3:4)
- The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23)
- Satan represents sin and death (cf., Daniel 8:25; 1 Corinthians 26; Ephesians 2:1-2).
- We all sin (Romans 3:23)
- When we sin, we’re held captive to Satan (2 Timothy 2:26) and death (Romans 6:23)
- Sin cannot break the cycle of sin and lawlessness; only one without sin (Jesus) can break the cycle (1 John 3:4); and only one who established the law (the LORD) can shatter lawlessness (Isaiah 33:22) and legal indebtedness (Colossians 2:13-15)
- Jesus’ death on the cross freed sinners from captivity and death (1 John 1:7)
- Because of Jesus’ resurrection, we have eternal life (John 3:16; 1 Corinthians 15:22)
- Jesus’ resurrection was a triumph over the powers and authorities of darkness (Colossians 2:13-15).
8. (Viced Rhino) “If God is all-powerful and all-loving, why does he require blood in order to grant forgiveness? Old Testament or New, someone had to die before he could forgive anyone. Human beings can forgive each other without there being a death first. Why can’t God?”
Andrew Stratelates: It’s not that God requires the blood in order to forgive, but rather that we need the blood to be both healed and fully repent. God forgives us, but we still leave with the consequential stain upon our souls and harm to our character, until of course, God fixes us.
Chrisann Dawson– In my opinion, forgiveness and the payment or atonement of sin are two separate concepts. Forgiveness acknowledges that a wrong has been committed and decides not to hold a grudge. Sin though has consequences. It could result in a severed or damaged relationship, the loss of property, reputation, employment, or even life. Sin’s greater requirement beyond forgiveness is to be paid for, atoned, or expunged.
I believe that a sacrificial death fulfills sin’s need to be marked “paid in full.”
Many attempt to make this payment themselves, but the price or debt has been paid. The sacrifice of Jesus is simply God’s offer to pay mankind’s debt.
Truly, if I, as a human, choose to forgive someone an offense, I am the one “sacrificing.” I am sacrificing my just right to condemn, judge, or seek revenge.
God choosing to forgive ultimately means that He is absorbing the justice required for the offense Himself. Forgiveness is a profound, multi-faceted concept, and one I am grateful to have received from God.
Eve Keneinan: For God to become a man is Christianity’s most extreme claim. I was partly led to see it by the idea that only that befits the God who is love, to give Himself up for us like that. It’s too paradoxical and extreme not to be true, in a way. I understand why it’s such a stumbling block for Jews and Muslims and Platonists like I was.
Andrew Stratelates: It’s also the only way out of a certain type of abject existential terror. Pelagianism is a lot more appealing when you perceive yourself as competent. And pelagianism doesn’t require the incarnation. Pelagianism is the belief that we can save ourselves.
Albert Oon: God sacrificed Himself to show His unending love and forgiveness for us. He wanted to show this through the most painful process that shows His level of dedication.
SJ Thomason: Jesus, who was without sin, bore the sins of the world so that we could be freed from the binds of our sins to share eternal joy with our Lord in heaven. “For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:9). In other words, it was the Lord’s will that Jesus bear the cup of His wrath for the sins of the world. Only one without sins could break the binds of humanity’s sins, so Jesus (the pure Passover Lamb) was uniquely qualified to take on this role. “God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
The gift of God’s grace to humanity over His wrath should not be taken lightly. Consider the way Jesus’ grace-filled disciples served as exemplars of Christ, despite much persecution. Multiple sources indicate that they were stoned, jailed, beaten, crucified, beheaded, and burned to death. Peter was crucified upside down, James was killed by Herod Agrippa (Acts 12: 1-2), and Paul was beheaded by Nero in Rome. These were confirmed by the Eusebius, the first church historian, in his book “Ecclesiastical History.” The martyrdoms of Peter and Paul were also documented by Dionysius of Corinth, Tertullian and Origen. The martyrdom of James was also documented by Josephus, Hegesippus, and Clement of Alexandria (Habermas & Licona, 2004). Yet they sang and rejoiced while in prison (c.f., Acts 16:25). They refused to recant to save themselves. They were filled with God’s grace through the Holy Spirit.
A Pharisee named Gamaliel rather presciently predicted the rise of Christianity when he convinced his fellow Pharisees to leave Peter and the other apostles alone at one point. Gamaliel said, “Men of Israel, consider carefully what you intend to do to these men. Some time ago, Theudas appeared, claiming to be somebody, and about four hundred men rallied to him. He was killed, all his followers dispersed, and it all came to nothing. After him, Judas the Galilean appeared in the days of the census and led a band of people in revolt. He too was killed, and all his followers scattered. Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God” (Acts 5:35-39). By 313 A.D., when Constantine legalized Christianity, the faith had between 5 – 6 million adherents.
Abraham’s Holy Terror: If I’m not mistaken God grants forgiveness and redemption and blessings throughout the Old Testament without the prerequisite of blood sacrifice.
This question should be answered by explaining that God isn’t setting up an arbitrary rule in order to be appeased – that’s not a god anyone should acknowledge. What is going on is: The inevitability of existence is being expressed. This concept is the narration of God informing humanity that if they make the right sacrifices then suffering might be ameliorated or even redeemed.
When we chose to withhold immediate gratification in order to get something better in the future – we make a sacrifice. When we sacrifice peace for a night of partying – we suffer the consequences of the sacrifice.
The reason that sacrifices tend to be something that is of great value is because, if it was worthless or shoddy it wouldn’t be “giving something up” – the person wouldn’t care about the loss. So, what is sacrificed is of high value. The purpose of it isn’t blood or death, exactly. Though we often do feel a kind of pain in the decision to suffer the right. It is something like shedding a skin. The purpose of it is as a gift. It contains within it the acknowledgement of opportunity cost – the cost of what we’ve given up in order to continue on.
I’ve read about an African Dagara ritual, which incorporates the sacrifice of animals. In their story the chicken lobbied the gods/absolute to be the most common sacrifice (of their people). The chicken did so to get the opportunity to give its life in service. This struck me because it seems to resonate with the patterns of Christianity as prophets and saints and even Christ gave their lives in service of that which is seen as the greatest purpose or mode of being. A pattern maintained from the lowest to the highest. Then the Dagara people cook and share/eat the chicken – taking in the nourishment in a kind of Eucharist. The abstract object of sacrifice becomes the real fuel and building blocks of the participant.
In the case of Christianity – it seems that more of the narrative focuses on the stopping of bloodletting for sacrifice. Isaac’s blood wasn’t shed and the surprise redeeming ending resonates the pattern of the Christ’s conquering of death and resurrection. The sacrifice of Jesus seemed to put into motion the ending of sacrificing animals. The laws of Moses could have been an effort to move people away from the concept of human sacrifice.
The Old Testament: Morality, Global Flood and Slavery
- (Jackson Wheat) “In the Old Testament, God didn’t like all of the unrighteous people on the earth. So why did God choose to get rid of all of them with a global flood? Presumably He could have made them painlessly vanish with a silent snap of His immaterial fingers. And why after flooding the whole earth did God decide to hide all evidence of his act?
Andrew Stratelates: Because there is a more significant connection between the actions of the unrighteous and their fate than an arbitrary judgment on God’s part. Oh, and He did leave evidence, otherwise you wouldn’t be talking about it now.
JJ Richards: This question assumes that a global flood is the only valid interpretation of the Genesis flood narrative. Suffice to say, that isn’t the case. Regional floods as have been put forth by RTB (Reasons.org) and others, where humanity had settled tens of thousands of years ago, correspond with a significant amount of evidence that relate to such floods. While it is possible that God could have simply made people vanish, this is not the way, presuming He exists, that He’s chosen to go about things. The consequences for sin are both physical and non-physical. As to the why, I wouldn’t presume to know all of God’s reasons.
Abraham’s Holy Terror: I think the idea of the global flood is about how God, i.e. The Truth, inevitably reconciles things. If people ruin their home/world (earth) then they will suffer the consequences. If the people of the world are so unrighteous (unethical) that it pollutes it so much that the ice caps melt and the ocean rises 100 feet then we end up in a water world/global flood apocalypse movie. I don’t think the story is referring to that specifically – more-so a general warning that you can’t allow corruption and negligence to spread or else we’re all f**ked, and not in the ‘be fruitful and multiply’ way.
Living out of accord with Reality/Truth/God will inevitably lead to destruction, pain, difficulty – even more destruction, pain and difficulty than we’ll likely encounter living IN ACCORD with Reality/Truth/God. It isn’t something done in spite or trivially; it’s an explanation of the inevitability and the scope of destruction when a people throw truth/beauty/reason/God aside.
Philip Cottraux: I’m not surprised someone brought up the flood; that is the favorite topic of the non-believer! Let me start by addressing the last sentence: “And why after flooding the whole earth did God decide to hide all evidence of his act?”
I realize it might be a stretch getting you to accept a global flood, so I’m willing to meet you halfway. There are over 250 flood legends from the ancient world, the oldest originating from Mesopotamia. Genesis is just one account, and not even the oldest. Almost all of them have the same basic story in common: the god(s) decide to destroy the world with a flood, but warn one righteous man to saves his family and all the animals by building an ark. The ark is swept onto a mountain while the rest of the world perishes and the flood hero saves not only humanity, but becomes the inventor of wine.
There is always a grain of truth behind every legend, especially one as pervasive as this. So would at least agree that it’s reasonable that a real catastrophic deluge striking Mesopotamia probably inspired the flood legends throughout the ancient world?
In the late 1920s, a British archaeologist named Charles Leonard Woolley discovered a massive alluvial silt deposit in a pit while excavating the city of Ur. While some really bad floods might leave a few inches of silt, this strata was between 8-11 feet. Underneath it were the drowned and buried pottery shards of a very early civilization.
Woolley thought he had discovered evidence for Noah’s flood, but then later recanted that claim. However, this flood would have been larger than any seen in history, deep enough to cover mountains and stretching at its maximum horizon across all of lower Mesopotamia (Woolley estimated it to be 400 miles across, but I think it was bigger still). He dated it at approximately 3200 BC. Since no flood legends predate Woolley’s deposit, I find it plausible that this was the great deluge of the Bible.
Now I realize that modern English translations of the Bible indicate the “whole Earth” was covered with water, but going back to the original proto-Sinaitic scriptures, we find that some Hebrew words had double meanings. Genesis in its original language could just have easily said “the whole land,” or that the waters covered “the hillsides.” So a local flood catastrophe doesn’t actually contradict the Bible the way we think.
But was Noah/Utnapishtim/Atrahasis based on a real person?
For centuries, we’ve assumed that the ark landed on Mount Ararat. But look closely at Genesis 8:4: “And the ark rested in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, upon the mountains of Ararat.” Mountains is plural, and Ararat actually refers to an ancient land called “Urartu.” The modern “Mount Ararat” (real name Agri Dagh) didn’t receive that name until the 13th century. This means that the ark could have landed anywhere in the Zagros mountain range.
According to ancient traditions (including even the Quran), a mountain 17 miles to the Southwest of Ararat, called “Judi Dagh,” is the real landing place of the ark. And the archaeological evidence for this is overwhelming.
I couldn’t even list to you all the ancient sources that have reported the decaying remains of a giant wooden ship on the side of Mount Judi. Even Sennacherib, the Assyrian king, claimed to have seen it and even taken a piece with him to worship in the temple at Ninevah! There are even ancient tribes with legends of ascending the mountain and scraping bitumen (which is only produced in swampy lowlands) off the ark ruins to make talismans.
Woolley’s discovery proves that the flood was real, even if it didn’t necessarily cover the entire planet. With the historical evidence in mind, I do think that a real person saw the disaster coming in advance and built a giant ship to save his family and some local animals, inspiring the plethora of flood legends from the ancient world. That is the Genesis story in its essence.
What I can’t compromise, without believing in the divine, is how he knew the flood was coming.
Now, working back to the rest of your question, plenty of others have written extensively about the symbolic meaning of the flood. The only thing I will contribute is that if the flood was real, and Noah was a real person, then that’s another huge step in my accepting God’s existence. And the what’s and why’s that follow don’t really matter as much. Now I can confidently apply the lessons of the story to my own life!
- (Kyle Curtis) “Atheists are told we have no true way of having a moral compass. I don’t think you need the promise of heaven to see that doing good is just good. The basis for my morality is simple. I believe that doing the most good and the least harm benefits not only me but those around me. I believe that things like kindness and love and laughter benefit not only me but those around me. However, I also believe that things like judgment, condemnation, and a willful ignorance to follow something that has no basis in reality or is backed up by evidence is ultimately harmful and not only to me but to those around me. What’s the basis for your morality? Is it the Bible? That same Bible that doesn’t condemn slavery or rape? Instead it says things like if your daughter is raped, she should marry her attacker. Or if you’re a slave owner and you find yourself in a situation when your slave is unruly, you’re within your rights to beat him within an inch of his life. So many Scriptures. 66 books filled with thousands of pages and hundreds of thousands of words but not one of which says that rape or slavery is morally wrong.”
Andrew Stratelates: The issue is that atheists do not have a rational ground to believe that their cognitive perceptions of goodness are actually truth-tracking. If you appeal to your cognitive abilities to determine what is good and evil, you are both in accord with Christian thought on the matter (Pauline epistles onwards) and are permitting the Christian to use a similar ground for their belief in God.
Morality is, by definition, about doing the most good and least harm, the question is what does it mean to do good and cause harm? “Be kind, love, laugh”, why are these the things that are good, instead of say, “Be strong, cull your enemies and shame those who oppose you?”
It’s not a good look to say false things that aren’t in the Bible, and I also find it fascinating how atheists are obsessed with the Mosaic law, which Christians have never been under: The Bible permits a sort of regulated slavery for the Hebrews which was much milder than what was permitted in their neighboring kingdoms. The woman was not obligated to marry her attacker, but rather the attacker was obligated to marry his victim, which would also mean that he was financially responsible for her, among various other things. It was similar to how modern rapists can be financially responsible for the children that they create.
Beatings were common in the ancient world, coaches and teachers beat their (young adult) students, again, the Mosaic law put stricter limits than was otherwise permitted.
The Bible is actually 73 books. Oh, and it does say rape is wrong: Deuteronomy 22:25-28 explicitly compares rape to murder. Exodus 21:16, if implemented in the American English colonies, would mean the death penalty for almost all the slavers slave-owners, since the vast majority of African slaves were kidnapped.
Sy Garte: The claim is not that all Christians are moral and all others are not. The claim is that God endowed all people with the moral law, and all people have the freedom to choose to follow it or not. Sin is real, for both Christians and non Christians. The important part is that as Christians, we are forgiven. The first words of Jesus to the people (in Matthew) were “Repent.. the Kingdom of God is near.” The atheist trope that the Bible condones slavery is nonsense. The elimination of slavery was unthinkable in the ancient world, and it was an entirely different thing than modern slavery. People sold themselves into slavery to avoid starvation, for example. What the Bible does teach is for slaves and masters to treat each other respectfully, and also sets out rules on how slave must be treated. There is even a commandment that those who take slaves, free them, and then re enslave them are to be punished with death. The quote mining and distortions of atheists of Biblical passages is outrageous and persistent.
JJ Richards: To be an unmarried woman whose people and tribe had been conquered in the Ancient Near East was a death sentence, or a permanent prostitution sentence. Marriage protected women, brought them into “part of the Israel nation”, and gave them the same rights as any married Jewish woman. — All so they wouldn’t be raped, tortured and killed. Also if we talk evidence, it should be noted that the Judeo-Christian religion is the only religion that came into being through group revelations. In other words it wasn’t like every other religion where one man comes back with a ‘report from God’. God revealed himself in the Exodus, on Mt. Sinai all of Israel heard God speak, Jesus spoke to crowds, performed miracles in front of many, and rose to hundreds of witnesses.
This multi-part, multi-question paragraph makes this statement: “However, I also believe that things like judgment, condemnation, and a willful ignorance to follow something that has no basis in reality or is backed up by evidence is ultimately harmful and not only to me but to those around me.” This is at best disingenuous. The Judeo-Christian faith makes truth claims based upon historical facts in the real world. One may argue about the truthfulness of such facts, or the weightiness of such facts, but to state that they are not based in reality is obtuse. The Christian faith is one grounded in the dirt and grime. It is gritty and difficult. It is filled with the struggle, sacrifice and redemption of real human beings. These people in the Bible, at least as much as we’ve been able to verify through archaeology and written history, were real. They were not overtly spiritualized and were as imperfect as any human being (except Christ who was morally perfect as was foretold and expected of the Messiah)
Philip Cottraux: I love it when atheists make absurd claims about the Bible, while showing that they’ve clearly never actually read it for themselves. Ever heard of fact-checking before making blanket-statements like “The Bible doesn’t condemn slavery! The Bible says rape is okay!”? Previous posters already debunked those statements.
Characteristics of God
- (Kaitlyn Chloe) “If you’ve never been to the ends of the earth. If you’ve never been to every planet. If you’ve never been to the corners of the universe. How do you know other gods don’t exist?”
Andrew Stratelates: gods (that is, deities which are personifications of forces, or rule subsets of Nature) are of no existential interest to me, and those are the only types of things we’d discover if we did such exploration. God, who is Supreme Being, is what’s important, and we already know He is here.
Sy Garte: It isn’t necessary to travel around the universe to find God. God is outside of space and time, and can be found right here, inside your heart and soul. If there are gods living on some other planet, then they are just “gods” (namely other beings like us) and not the one true God.
Albert Oon: Because God has proven Christianity to be true through His actions and history time and time again.
JJ Richards: If a god (lower case) existed elsewhere in the universe, well then it wouldn’t be God as in – the spaceless, timeless, immaterial, incredibly intelligent, all powerful, all loving creator of the universe and everything in it. Notice that the word God as in G-O-D has very little meaning unless you put content into it. This is true of names as well. If I speak of John and you speak of John, we better be speaking about the same John if we are to have real communication. Often times we get caught up in these semantic arguments that need not be if we could only agree on the definition of what we are arguing about. If you want to argue about created gods, well that’s one thing, and it’s not what Christians mean when they speak of God. This is why philosophers define terms before a debate. You do not see them pull an amateurish move like argue about what is meant by God. When we put the content of the Bible into the word God, we can have a legitimate conversation about whether he exists with the properties I posited earlier in this paragraph.
Abraham’s Holy Terror: God includes both the Known and the Unknown. Since the Unknown is greater than the Known, it is beneficial to align ourselves with that which is inclusive of the Unknown. We will be more prepared to navigate it.
Philip Cottraux: Polytheism doesn’t make any sense because it violates Occam’s Razor. This is a scientific principle (named after William Occam though more accurately attributed to Thomas Aquinas) that the simplest explanation is always the right one. Better put, you should never come up with more explanations to a mystery than is necessary to solve the mystery. If one eternally pre-existing omnipotent being exists, it’s scientifically unlikely that there are any more.
Now, you may protest that Christians believe in the Trinity: and for that, I refer you to C.S. Lewis’ explanation of the necessity of the three persons of the Godhead in Mere Christianity.
Heaven and Hell
- (Suris the Skeptic)“In most sections of Christian theology, there’s typically one of two after-lives people get into when you die. There might be different subsects on this but generally speaking, there are these main two: heaven or hell. Why would you want either of those? You can go to heaven and have no free will or hell and burn forever. If you go to heaven, everything is happy at all times, which means you’re not allowed to feel sadness and you’ll be worshipping God until the end of days so that’s going to keep going forever and ever, which means you effectively have no will of your own. You are forced to worship this deity until who knows when. Now, if you go to hell, then you’re going to be burning forever but at least you have your free will. In neither of these are you given a choice or chance be anything than what you’ll be shaped or molded into. In both of these, you will effectively be a slave, whether you have your free will and you’re burning and tortured or you have no free will and are effectively stuck in servitude. I don’t believe either of these places exists but it seems that a lot of Christian theists want these places to exist. And my question is why? Both sound abysmal.”
Scott Adams: There’s more to unpack in this question than I really have time for today, but I think it’s a very fundamental question in understanding our relationship to God. It’s one of the areas I have the hardest time reconciling the traditional Christian view of, and for me personally it’s one of the most treasured parts of the LDS faith that I know of. Paul speaks of seeing a man caught up into the third heaven, and Christ talks about the fact that in His Father’s house are many mansions. That word mansions can also be translated into kingdoms. Paul also speaks of different degrees of glory of resurrected bodies. Looking just at the biblical evidence even then – it suggests to me that there are more than just two destinations for the inhabitants of this world after this life, and that God’s justice will ensure that each person will receive a place that is right for them to be, and in a state that they will be happy – with the exception of the absolutely most evil who must be bound and cast out again because justice demands it.
Andrew Stratelates: First of all, orthodox Christian eschatology is far more complex than “death, then you go one of two places after-death”. Generally, Christians acknowledge that those in repose (that is, dead) exist in something of a waiting room, what the Hebrews called “Abraham’s Bosom.” This may be pleasant (what’s called the beatific vision), painful (The rich man in the parable of Christ about Lazarus), or active (the intermediate state, sometimes called purgatory).
After which, at the general resurrection, we will all have second life, the damned will be tossed into the lack fire and the Saints (that is, all Christians, including those who only learned of Christianity after death) live out the beatific vision.
“Heaven has no free will” is nonsense, in Heaven (that is, The New Earth) is the only place where we will truly have free will. To have free will means to have a will that is not impeded by error, vice or sickness, all of which will be conquered.
To worship God has more resemblance to a wife worshipping her newlywed husband (who worships her in return) than it does some additional duty. There will be no force involved.
The fires of hell are what the intense presence of God is, when you don’t want God’s presence around you. Your will is not free, and you are entirely enslaved by your own passions and sufferings.
Both of these “places” are metaphysical places, it’s better to think of them as modes of being. Today, your life will be one of these places. Every suffering will become a victory for those in Heaven and every pleasure will become an additional sting of hurt for those in Hell.
Why do these modes of being exist? Because we are made in God’s image, and also have free will. We were made to be with God (which is what “Heaven”) is, but we are free to reject that (which is what hell is).
Albert Oon: Why would you want to feel sadness and why is being happy with God for all eternity a bad thing? Going to Heaven is an act of free will and you will continue to do what you want as long as it’s good. Going to Hell is prideful and being a slave to yourself and to your desires and feelings. The worst people go to Hell, which means they’ll get punished if they don’t get punished here. For Heaven, the just are rewarded especially if they aren’t treated well here.
SJ Thomason: Firstly, we have free will in Heaven. Lucifer freely chose to value his pride and ego over the Lord, as detailed in Ezekiel. Secondly, it seems that one of atheists’ biggest issues relates to their contempt for obedience and servility to God. When Jesus cried out in the Garden of Gethsemane and asked our Father to take His cup, He gave us a perfect example of obedience as He knew the task He needed to complete. Jesus took up His cross – as we all have crosses to bear and must take up our crosses.
But before people protest this, let me point to the way God glorified Jesus. The meek truly do inherit the world. Through His example, we can all be redeemed. Some of the most amazing people in this world have overcome extreme tragedies – and have gone on to make the world a far better place than it ever would have been if we were in some sort of a God’s pet sanctuary without any challenges.
Character building occurs when we’re challenged. We can never truly understand love without witnessing hatred. We can never understand the value of perseverance if we never had to persevere. Had we not had examples in life of those who’ve overcome amazing odds, we’d have no one to whom we can aspire. Consider Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King and Harriet Tubman and the trials that they overcame before God glorified them. These people are amazing examples of our heroes – for good reason.
Our heroes aren’t the people sitting on the sidelines – the armchair warriors on Twitter (some of us included). Our heroes are people who’ve battled and defeated the most extreme forces of evil in this world. God has empowered them to be examples to all of us – and by learning from their examples we’re better people.
Abraham’s Holy Terror: I think it might be help to begin the exploration of the ideas of Heaven and Hell by framing them as metaphors for the future. In this case Heaven would be whatever Future is actually “true, best, rational, developing, healthy, positive, alive, fulfilled and significant.” In this case Hell would be whatever future is, in reality, “miserable, erroneous, ill, irrational, false, worst, negative, empty, and insignificant.”
If we don’t aim for the ideal (called Heaven, from a religious orientation) the likelihood of walking a path of deep personal and real meaning is less likely. If we’re aiming at something petty, bitter, selfish, false or meaningless then we will suffer the Hellish consequences inevitably.
Free will provides the opportunity to be wrong and to investigate and know for ourselves. When we’re aware of the dangers of failure, negligence and maliciousness – then it highlights and amplifies the meaning of success, caretaking and heroism.
Philip Cottraux: This challenge contains some major presumptions that I need to address. First, it assumes that in the afterlife, our consciousness operates the same way as it does in the natural. Here on Earth, our biology rules our minds. We get bored easily. Our moods are determined by whether we’re tired, thirsty, hungry, etc. In heaven, we don’t have to worry about those things. The consciousness lives forever and is unshackled by the needs of our physical bodies.
The afterlife is a metaphysical realm that our minds can’t fully process or comprehend. While here on Earth, the idea of spending eternity worshiping a deity sounds boring, but it isn’t quite like that in the cosmic realm.
I’ve read or heard several testimonies from people who have either:
-Had a vision of Jesus
-Died temporarily on Earth and spent a few minutes in heaven
Interestingly enough, there’s a real consistency with these accounts:
-“When I saw Jesus, I wanted to cling to Him and never let go.”
-“I saw colors you can’t see hear on Earth. There are flowers and plants that don’t exist here.”
-“I heard music so beautiful it was overwhelming.”
-“Even though I realized I was dead, it was so wonderful that never wanted to come back.”
One man was even disappointed when he came back to this world, and was never satisfied with it again. He spent the rest of his life yearning to die so he could go back.
While the questioner decries the “lack of free will,” personally, I don’t believe that heaven is necessarily going to be all worshiping God, all the time. Oh, much of it will be, don’t worry about that. But God will reward our curiosity. For the scientifically minded, it’s going to be a wonderful experience learning all there is to know about our universe as He teaches us His mysteries and secrets. Doesn’t that sound like bliss?
Personally, I think that when we’re in Heaven, we’ll be in a state of constant learning and expanding our intellectual horizons. No matter how much we learn about Jesus, we’ll never know all there is to know about Him!
It’s not that we’ve lost our free will in Heaven, it’s that there comes a point where free will is no longer needed. We’ve already made our choice. Those who wanted heaven got it, and those who wanted no part of God got their wish. It makes no sense to say that someone in that eternal bliss will change their mind and say “Y’know, I’d rather be in hell right now.”
Robert William Kleber: I would like to begin my answer with first addressing Suris’ rhetorical question, “Why would you want either of those?” The idea of heaven and hell ultimately deals with the issue crime, punishment, and justice. Skeptics and atheists regularly question whether God exists at all because He appears so absent in the world and passive to the evils that are done on a daily basis. However, when they question God’s involvement in finally judging evil and good, they then come out complaining how horrible both of these realities He’s set up supposedly are. Well, which is it? Is He a passive and uncaring deist, or is He an overly cruel judge? I would say that He is neither of these options and the understanding of Heaven and Hell described by Suris needs development from its simple Sunday School level of theology.
Our modern culture has sadly cheapened the philosophies of Heaven and Hell. It was originally understood that Hell is a place of punishment and separation from the source of life, while Heaven is a place of bliss and communion with God. This doesn’t emotionally sit well with many in the west today, because we are so comfortable and the thought of an eternal punishment comes across as something for only bad people (if they deserve that at all!). And yet we never assume that we may be the ones just as much in need of punishment (or a savior from those punishments for that matter).
Think of it this way: if someone had seriously violated you or a loved one so severely and got away with it in this life and are unrepentant before Christ, wouldn’t it be a crime to allow that man to never be punished and to let them walk the streets of Heaven? That would be wrong, because God himself would have then made light of the evil done against you; justice needs to be served.
Regarding the comment “You have no free will of your own in Heaven. You are forced to worship this deity until who knows when.” And “If you go to Hell, you’re going to be burning forever but at least you have your free will.” The error here is in how free will works. The choice of either Heaven or Hell is already given to us if we choose to accept Jesus or not. God does love everyone and takes no delight in the death of the wicked, but He will not force you into a situation you do not want; to do so would make Him no better than the pagan gods who enslaved humanity. Some people may so hate God and want nothing to do with Him, and being in Heaven would be “Hell” for them. We are given the choice of where we get go.
I will make one last quick comment on this. There have been some Christian groups that have used the threat of hell as an apologetic. This has turned out to be a disaster for many people and it has warped their vision of God into some cruel, angry being who’s coming to get you. When a Christian talks about Hell, it should be done as a fireman’s sincere warning to someone in a burning house. “If you don’t get out of this place now, the house will burn up and you will die!” You do not want them out of spite to answer, “I know your kind! How dare you try to force your beliefs on me and into a way of seeing the world. Go away with your warnings. Keep them.”
- (Godless Engineer)“Often creationists will characterize the Big Bang as something magically created from nothing – but then you have creationists who literally believe a supernatural being created the entire universe. Literally something magical from nothing. Why is the first one irrational but the second one logical?”
Andrew Stratelates: God is not a being, magical or nothing. Let’s steel-man this argument a big.
Oftentimes creationists will characterize an atheistic understanding of the big bang as irrational, that the universe magically came from nothing. But creationists believe that the universe was created with no prior existence by God, a supernatural agent. Why is the first one irrational but the second one rational?
Because, fundamentally, the second one describes a causal change and offers an explanation. We ask “Why does the universe exist?” and answer “Because God created it.” In an atheistic big-bang, there is no answer why. And if you can’t answer why then you cannot give an explanation. And it’s irrational to reject an explanation and assert there is no explanation.
Albert Oon: The second one is logical because a supernatural being makes something supernatural happen while the other one is illogical since nothing making something happen. Don’t even bother characterizing nothing as something.
JJ Richards: That which is outside of the universe and all space and time, which created the universe, would have to be different than the universe itself. The universe is composed of all that is as we understand it, “nature”. Therefore that which is outside of nature that must have created or started it, would be by definition, supernatural.
SJ Thomason: Old Earth Creationists do not characterize the Big Bang as something magically created from nothing. An atheist called Lawrence Krauss made that claim in his book “A Universe from Nothing.” We argue that the universe came from something that has characteristics consistent with what must have been present prior to the Big Bang. Since time, space, and matter began at the initial inflation of the universe (i.e., the Big Bang), what was present prior had to be timeless, immaterial, intentional and omnipotent. These characteristics are consistent with the Christian conception of God.
John Dunfee: If nothing was a causal force, then we should see something coming from nothing all the time. Why don’t we see this? Why don’t we see horses, chairs, dogs, or anything else pop into existence by nothing all the time? Why is nothing so discriminatory? God is omnipotent and has created ex-nihilo. Also, Christians aren’t claiming that something came from nothing, but rather God did not need prior material to cause the universe to begin to exist. Godless Engineer seems to confuse the types of cause. God is the sufficient cause for the beginning of the universe, which we have scientific evidence for ex nihilo. We can’t get something from nothing, so nothing is not a cause, so God is the sufficient cause for the beginning of the universe. This question is simply a red herring to try to avoid their burden of proof for the claim that something can come from nothing. Also, Godless Engineer believes that subatomic particles came into being without a cause all the time in quantum vacuums, so his objection to creation ex nihilo is just silly when you take this into account.
Abraham’s Holy Terror: Purpose seems more rational to me than random happenings that result in very unlikely circumstances.
Both cases have a “magical” origin – the difference is that religious folks acknowledge and account for it in their narrative – namely, the spaceless, timeless, eternal, infinite, boundless, ineffable, absolute true thing (God). The conclusions of both secular and religious folks, I think, are usually similar in regards to this inconceivable thing: “I don’t know.”
Atheism jumps from magical origin to the “I don’t know.”
Theism contextualizes the magical origin utilizing the attributes of the “I don’t know”
Philip Cottraux: This challenge contains a classic mischaracterization of God’s power. Notice how the question contains “magic” and “magical” over and over again. Atheists do this all the time, having to mis-define words to create the impression that religious belief coincides with ancient superstition. Here again is the presumption that philosophical naturalism (the belief that physical matter and the forces of nature are all there are in the universe) is the truth, without ever establishing why.
All “supernatural” means is “beyond the natural.” While believing in magic could be a form of the supernatural, believing in the supernatural doesn’t necessarily mean believing in magic (magic and superstition are actually the beliefs that we can control the supernatural through rituals or practices).
Philosophical naturalism, the heart of atheism, is the problem. While accepted as fact by atheists, it has never been scientifically proven, and is in fact very problematic. Even secular scientists admit that there is probably more to the universe than physical matter. Atheists accept all sorts of theories that destroy naturalism. For crying out loud, how often do we hear about “multiverses” or unlimited numbers of other dimensions that might be out there somewhere?
So believing in God’s supernatural power has nothing to do with magic, and everything to do with accepting that there are forces beyond the human understanding or comprehension that have shaped the universe we live in. And this is clearly the case, as naturalism is inadequate to explain:
- The cause of the universe.
- The fine-tuning of the universe.
- The existence of life (even the basic and most primitive cell in its irreducible complexity).
So you can accuse me of believing in “magic” if you want…but at least I’m acknowledging the existence of the magician. You’re claiming that the rabbit pulled itself out of the hat!
In conclusion, we have answered a variety of questions from a group of atheists to shed the light on the way, the truth and the life. Thank you for investing the time. If you are interested in hearing about more proof of God’s existence, we strongly encourage you to listen to this video by William Lane Craig: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TtSXyrEzXs4&sns=tw
My friend David Brown has answered the questions as well and you can access them here on his blog: https://www.goodreads.com/author_blog_posts/16774354-questions-atheists-believe-have-no-answer
Habermas, G.R. & Licona, M.R. (2004a). The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications.
Lewis, C.S. (1952). Mere Christianity. New York, NY: HarperOne.
Plantinga, A. (1974). God, Freedom, and Evil. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.
Rohl, David. From Eden to Exile: The 5,000-Year History of the People of the Bible. Lebanon, TN: Greenleaf Press, 2002, page 49-51.
Rohl, David. “Mountain of the Ark.” March 24, 2012. Davidrohl.blogspot.com, accessed May 5, 2018. <http://davidrohl.blogspot.com/2012_03_01_archive.html>
Tenny, Merrill C., ed. Pictorial Bible Dictionary. Nashville: The Southwestern Company, 1968, Page 285.
4 Replies to “Christians Answer Questions Atheists Say Christians Can’t Answer”
What a great resource. Thanks for putting it all together.
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Andrew Stratelates wrote, “Christ didn’t write a series of books, but founded a civilization that then wrote a series of books. As such, you cannot properly interpret the texts of Christianity outside of Christianity itself.”
I’ve heard proclamations like this before both from Andrew and from many in the presuppositionalist camp (though, to my knowledge, Andrew is not a presuppositionalist). But there are a variety of objections to this. For example, is Andrew unable to critique Islam and the Qur’an since it too was the product of the Islamic community? Or, is he unable to utilize the Hebrew Bible since it was formed within the context of the Jewish community?
Furthermore, one of the purposes of the Gospels is evangelistic. The author of John’s Gospel makes this explicit: “These things are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:31, NRSV). If “you cannot properly interpret the texts of Christianity outside of Christianity itself,” then what in the world is going on in John 20:31?
Perhaps Andrew could offer some clarification.
This was billed as “questions Theists can’t answer” and the Theists did not disappoint. Particularly with Paul and Shannon’s question, they completely talked around the question. No one came close to discussing the meaning of the question. It makes me wonder why? They seemed like nice people, not particularly prone to dissembling or “KellyAnning” questions they didn’t like. It seems to me that the Theistic mindset makes them blind to certain concepts. They didn’t answer the original question because the concepts the question dealt with in the questions were utterly foreign to the Theistic perspective. It was like asking a colorblind person what shade of blue the sky is. Itg makes me wonder further if Theists think the same of questions they say no atheist can answer. Do they think the answers Atheists give miss the mark? Is there some facet of Theistic thinking that Atheists just cannot see?