Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Answering Christian Answers Part 3 (includes questions for christians)

Part 3 in a series. Part 1 is here, part 2 is here. Hit the "read more" link to see this entry.

29. Have you ever considered the fact that Christianity is the only religion whose leader is said to have risen from the dead?

Have you ever considered the fact that Islam has the only leader who is said to have split the moon in half? That's more impressive than coming back to life, given that doctors bring people back to life regularly without any divine intervention. Why don't you go

30. How do you explain the empty tomb of Jesus in light of all the evidence that has now proven essentially irrefutable for twenty centuries?

Literally all the evidence comes from the bible, and it is contradictory. Also, the first mention of any resurrection was added by someone else later on. So your evidence is not incontrovertible.

31. If Jesus did not actually die and rise from the dead, how could He (in His condition) have circumvented all of the security measures in place at His tomb?

This question is like asking "if the Tick didn't stop Chairface from carving his whole name in the moon, why are the letters C, H and part of A carved in the moon, but nothing else?" The only evidence of any of that happening is in an old comic book series and an old animated TV show (it never happened in the live action show). Likewise, your only evidence this event happened comes from the bible. Our objection comes from this fact, and now you're using another part of the bible to support your claim? This shows a clear lack of understanding the objections to the story.

32. If the authorities stole Jesus' body, why? Why would they have perpetrated the very scenario that they most wanted to prevent?

See above.

33. If Jesus merely resuscitated in the tomb, how did He deal with the Roman guard posted just outside its entrance?

See 31.

34. How can one realistically discount the testimony of over 500 witnesses to a living Jesus following His crucifixion (see 1 Corinthians 15:6)?

That's like saying "if Spider-Man isn't real why did so many people see him saving that train from flying off the tracks?" Those 500 people were part of the same book we don't trust! Give us some reason to believe this part of the story happened.
I could also say "the same way I explain the thousands of yearly reports of UFO/Sasquatch/Yeti/Loch Ness Monster/Bunyip/Mokele Mbembe/Elvis/etc. sightings" if I so desired.

35. If all of Jesus' claims to be God were the result of His own self-delusion, why didn't He evidence lunacy in any other areas of His life?

How do you know he didn't? The biblical narrative covers his birth, a story or two about his youth (before the age he’d have his bar mitzvah), and a few stories from his early thirties. Most of his life is a mystery to us. But even so, cursing a fig tree for not bearing fruit out of season is slightly mad, wouldn't you agree?

36. If God is unchanging, wouldn't it be true that one who changes by suddenly “realizing” that he/she is “God” therefore isn't God?

That is a good question. Didn't Jesus suddenly realize he was god? Does that not mean he actually isn't god?

37. Is your unbelief in a perfect God possibly the result of a bad experience with an imperfect Church or a misunderstanding of the facts, and therefore an unfair rejection of God Himself?

Some have interpreted the story of my leaving Christianity as the result of bad experiences with the church, but I assure you, my bad experiences pushed me towards god, not away (I think I explicitly stated that in the linked blog post. For the second part, that is possible, but the facts as presented by believers don't make much sense.
My counter question here is this: how do you know that your belief isn't based on a faulty understanding of the facts?

38. How did 35-40 men, spanning 1500 years and living on three separate continents, ever manage to author one unified message, i.e. the Bible?

As clearly evidenced by the many textual contradictions in the bible and the various interpretations of the text, they didn't. Also...3 continents? I'm pretty sure most of those books were written in the lands currently known as Israel, Palestine and Iraq, with a little bit possibly being written in Greece. Sure, Egypt was a location used, but it’s not known if any of it was written in Egypt. If there's an African location that any of the bible was written in, please let me know.

39. Would you charge the Declaration of Independence with error in affirming that "all men are endowed by their Creator..."?

I'm not American, so I don't care about your declaration of independence, but this is a particularly bad attempt at an emotional manipulation that's aimed at Americans. Given the amount of reverence that that most Americans seem to give that document, this is close to saying "do you think your grandma's an idiot because she's christian?" with a hint of "atheists are Un-American" which is pretty low if you ask me.
Regardless, it obviously didn't work on your own founding fathers. A good lot of them were skeptical deists, including Thomas Paine, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and both John Adams and his son John Quincy Adams. Deists don't think god did anything after he created everything, so clearly they wouldn't think that he made everyone equal. And given the Treaty of Tripoli, well, I'm pretty sure this "creator" wasn't meant to be your god at all. Also, they sort of kept slaves, didn't let women vote and didn't let poor people vote, so they didn't all support the other half of that sentiment.

40. Because life origins are not observable, verifiable, or falsifiable, how does historical 'science' amount to anything more than just another faith system?

Since we can and have tested the origins of life (see question 17), your question is based on a false premise.

41. What do you make of all the anthropological studies indicating that even the most remote tribes show some sort of theological awareness?

It means that we are a curious species, that we like the idea of an afterlife, that we hate feeling helpless, that we like having someone to blame for bad things without an apparent human or animal perpetrator (a demon, an evil god, or perhaps punishment from a good god) and, most importantly, if there is any sort of deity or deities, they don't care about us. Think about it: the various creation myths range from gods speaking things into existence to having them craft things by hand to us living on a deity's carcass to us living on a pile of god vomit. The various moral codes of various religions have outlawed consumption of various foodstuffs that other religions are OK with (or even count as sacred) and have mandated things such a human sacrifice and genocide, while others have mandated against that.
So, my counter question here is why would a god that wants us to know him only reveal himself to one small desert tribe, and not to everyone?

42. Why subscribe to the incredible odds that the tilt and position of our planet relative to the sun are merely coincidental?

You're getting it backwards. Life adapts to its environment. Of our current collection of species on this planet, most would not be able to survive if the earth was a few thousand km more away from the sun, or a few thousand closer, but the rest would adapt, just like we adapted to the current way the earth is in relation to the rest of the solar system.

43. If every effect has a cause, and if God Himself is the universe (i.e. is one with the universe, as some non-Christians suggest), what or who then caused the universe?

Interesting question. I personally think the universe has always existed in some form or other, but I'm open to other ideas. However, the core of this question is the Kalam Cosmological Argument For God, whose fatal flaw is the fact that something has to have created any hypothetical god. You may wonder why I think that "the universe always has existed" is more logical than "god has always existed" and the simple answer is this: we know the universe exists, it's blatantly obvious; you had to invent this concept of "faith" to believe that a god exists.

44. What would be required to persuade you to become a believer?

First, I have to be with a fairly large group of people, none of whom are prone to hallucinations or on any mind-altering substances. We can't be in an area where fumes or something else may cause some sort of hallucination. At least one of them has to be an amputee, or someone else suffering an incurable and visible malady of some sort. One must also be a scientist if some sort. A video camera must be present and recording. This god must appear in front of us and we'd all have to see the same thing, which we'd verify later via the camera. He/she must claim to be god, must heal all the amputees or otherwise afflicted people, then tell the scientist some fact relevant to their field that hasn't yet been discovered, but when tested will be found to be completely accurate and Nobel-worthy. Furthermore, this being must be able to tell each of us one thing about ourselves that no one else could possibly know, and it must produce something that has never existed before from thin air, like kryptonite or something, that when tested won't be found to be a manufactured item. This would be a fairly compelling experience that, due to the evidence that would be left, I couldn't dismiss as an hallucination.
If your god can do that, then I'd believe.
Or, you know, if you came up with a compelling argument for your god that doesn't demand faith to believe it. That might work too.

At the end, the author pastes a popular e-mail forward from the dawn of the Internet where a university philosophy professor claims there is no god because we can't sense him, and a student uses this to prove the prof has no brain. I minored in philosophy and I can tell you, no serious professor would use that line of argument. They may say there's no compelling argument for any god, but never "we can't see him!" That argument is good enough for high school, not university.
Even so, the proper reply to the student's argument would be "if you took an MRI of the professor's skull, you'd find a brain, [bonus points if he had had such a procedure done] however, no such test can show us that any god exists." He could also say "no human can live without a brain, and the professor lives, therefore he has a brain. We still can't see god and there's nothing that depends on his existence, so he doesn't exist." The student who uses that argument with any degree of seriousness would get a well deserved F in any philosophy class.

Anyway, here are my counter-questions for this author and any other christian, gleaned from these questions. If you aren’t the author, only answer the ones that apply to you.

1. Explain how you can reconcile the First Law of Thermodynamics with the Genesis account, or with creation in general?

2. Why and how has the Talmud survived and even flourished in spite of centuries of worldwide attempts to destroy and ban its message?

3. If God is unchanging, and it’s true that one who changes by suddenly “realizing” that he/she is “God” therefore isn't God, how do you think Jesus is god?

4. Why would a god who wants to know us only reveal himself to one small desert tribe, and no one else?

5. Some questions you’ve asked, like number 13, and the unnumbered question stating that the bible is the #1 best selling book every, shows an appalling level of ignorance. Why do you not know your religion more well?

1 comment:

  1. I had a good laugh (That scally-wag Martin Luther King Jr.) To learning some new things I intend to research!

    Cheers, Ben!