armed with a degree in theology, over the years i have come up with specific questions to ask of christians.
indeed i even attend "alpha courses" (introductory courses to becoming a christian) and put these questions to the hosts (usually under the guise of "well i'm thinking of becoming a christian but i have some questions...)
confrontation and causing offense gets you nowhere. also being impolite just reinforces their smug assertion that atheists are angry.
the question i have had most success with at putting people on the spot goes like this...
"a priest rapes a choirboy. the choirboy becomes depressed and traumatized, rejects jesus and the church (understandably), turns to drugs, dies young and spends an eternity in hell, unsaved and condemned by god.
the priest repents on his deathbed, embraces christ, is forgiven and spends forever in heaven.
by what measure can we consider this to be justice?"
i'm hoping that this question might one day become a meme, so that anyone who brings up the subject of christianity is immediately reminded of this question and has an answer demanded of them.
i have many other questions like this that cannot be simply swatted away with theology, mystery or dogma.
i'd be happy to share them with anyone who is interested.
thanks for reading, let me know if it has an impact on anyone you ask.
I love religious music. (not silly, syruppy christian rock,though) It is so often filled with passion, and what is music, but melody, rhythm, and passion? Bach organ masses? Amazing Grace?
Very interesting debate...what are some more questions?
If god made the universe, all the stars, the moon, the sun, the earth and all its animals, fish, birds, why would he then bother with
Don't cut your hair nor shave - Leviticus 19.27
or should one have tassels on four cornered cloth - Jewish rule,
Do not sow your field with two kinds of seed; nor put on a garment made of two different materials - Leviticus 19:19
People who have flat noses, or is blind or lame, cannot go to an altar of God - Leviticus 21:17-18
If you find out a city worships a different god, destroy the city and kill all of it's inhabitants... even the animals - Deuteronomy 13:12-15
Kill anyone with a different religion -Deuteronomy 17:2-7
So with the last one, if anyone comes to the door, or accosts you in the street, they should be killing you, or they risk defying god's rules.
He must be bored and has run of other stuff to do
I love this stuff too, however when the opposition is armed with the phrase "God works in mysterious ways" it becomes pointless. The unfortunate reality is exactly what the Mark Twain quote alludes to. Our only hope is the children of the world and focusing on science education.
I can't wait to ask my mother this.
Thankyou for those answers. I'll definitely use them.
I have a friend from Ghana and he told me a joke they tell, which has real meaning.
“In ancient times, we owned all the land. The missionaries had all the bibles.
The missionaries said to us, "Bow your heads, close your eyes and let us pray."
So we Bowed our heads, closed our eyes and prayed.
When we opened our eyes and raised our heads, we had all the bibles and the missionaries had all the
It's a quote from archbishop Desmond Tutu about how Christian settlers landed in Africa to convert the native population while plundering their natural resources.
Richard Dawkins frequently says and has written that just because the consequences / outcome of something are distasteful, it doesn't mean its not true. His example is that just because life on earth is hopeless and meaningless ending in death, because there is no God, it doesn't mean that there is a God. An unpleasant uncomfortable outcome doesn't mean athiesm isn't true.
Taking a leaf out of Dawkins book there are several things that can be said about your scenario, which isn't as clever and all condemning as you imagine it to be.
1. The abused person going to hell does so for his own sins, not for the sins committed against him. Lets turn this on its head as an example. Lets say then the boy grows up and before he dies he abuses other boys. He is caught and put on trial and when he is in the dock he gives his defence that he was abused as a child and it became a cycle. What is the judge to do? Is he to say, 'ok that explains it, you can go free' (whilst the victim screams and cries) or does he say, thats terrible but you are still responsible for your own behaviour and that is what you are here called to account for. Being a victim doesn't mean that your not responsible and accountable for your own actions. God holds everyone accountable.
2. The scenario is a plea to justice and injustice. If God is real then the desire for justice we find in ourselves is a faint echo from our creator - who must be all just. As well as being just He is also loving. And so to both the man and the priest he wants to offer forgiveness and salvation, but cannot without justice being done for both of them. So He sends Christ to be punished in their place so that justice is served and love offers the hand of salvation to both. Both of whom are undeserving, but in different ways.
Christ being God meant that His sacrifice was enough justice to cover all crimes. Imagine a homeless drunk with a long rapsheet in Thailand and he starts selling drugs. In Thailand its a capital offence, but he is also a British citizen so the Queen of England sends a message that she will fly to Thailand and take his place and be put to death for him. Thats a pale reflection on Christ's sacrifice.
3. Many people see hell as unfair and wrong. Whenever I have asked someone who holds this view I always ask, "If your daughter was raped and the person was never caught and then died, what would you want God to do to that person" - they always say, send them to hell. The point is, if there is a God we want Him to serve justice the way we see fit. Whereas humility would dictate that He, being the creator, would be better placed to decide how justice should be served.
Those answers may be unpleasant for you. But as Dawkins says, truth does not have to be pleasant in order to be true.
Of course you could go further and ask why justice is important to you. Dawkings rightly argues that without God there is no good or evil, there is just what people do. And somethings are helpful for society and somethings are not. The problem is athiests live as if there is a God, as if there is moral good and evil. Question: Is it the case that the priest abusing the boy would always be wrong, no matter where, when and no matter if everyone around at the time said it was a good. idea. If you say yes to that, then you are living as if there is a God who provides an objective moral standard that is true even if no one believes it. Athiesm teaches in theory that with no God there is no standard, except what society decides. But in this example, and things like the Holocaust, if your honest you would agree that even if society said they were good, they still would be morally wrong. You live as if there is a God, you cannot help it.
Hope that helps.
Your friendly neighborhood Christian.
Justice demands that the punishment fit the crime(s), otherwise it is injustice. We can take the accumulated suffering caused by even a very evil person's crimes and still not be justified in subjecting them to any punishment which is not finite and of the appropriate severity in general. This is especially applicable to Pauline Christians who have a very black or white, fire and brimstone view of justice. If I were to close my child's hand in an hot oven for even a second, regardless of his misdeed or my status (man or god), sane persons would rightly condemn me as a monster and consider the punishment cruel and unusual. Even for lighter or gradualistic views of hell, the punishment does not even come close to matching the crime.
Justice also means that, the person perpetuating the crime is the one who is punished for it or makes amends. Anybody (god or man) can suffer for someone else's sake, but if it is not for his or her own crimes, justice, by definition, has not taken place. Justice by proxy is a contradiction.
Your view that the child is still responsible for his own past mistakes is partially acceptable. (Genetics and upbringing greatly effect human behavior, especially for children, which places partial responsibility for crimes on god, the priest, and parents). However you depart from making a valuable argument when you argue that he is being subject to justice, when the behavior and threatened punishments of god of the bible, and even less so of evangelical Christians, is clearly not just. In addition, the ignorance and evils condoned and committed by the god of the OT make him wholly unworthy to enact any form of justice against anybody.
God's choice of applying justice to the boy versus the priest must fall into one of these cases, in your scenario:
- God must hold everyone accountable, justice means his hands are tied.
- God chooses to hold everyone accountable, and can choose who to show mercy.
In the first scenario, god must hold everyone accountable. Ignoring my argument that god's punishments are not just to being with, you cannot argue that god must apply (that form of) justice to the child (as you do in #1), then argue that god can make exceptions. These are mutually exclusive, thus the first choice cannot be true with a Christian god.
The second choice is, god chooses to hold everyone accountable. You cannot argue that god is loving, but then argue that he, being the one who chooses to enact justice, capable of making exceptions, chooses to save the regretful priest simply because the priest accepts him, and chooses not to save the (mentally ill) boy. Love prefers mercy over justice, and (unjust) punishments which fulfill no purpose (i.e. the protection of society, or rehabilitation of the criminal) are vengeance. Again, these are mutually exclusive, you cannot be said to "love" someone, or claim to be "merciful" toward anyone who you subject to eternal vengeance.
Either god is not loving, or he cannot save anybody from justice, Christians included.
We've heard your apologetic views before; they still don't work and only help to reinforce our view that Christians (particularly evangelists) have very warped views.
You also misrepresent Dawkins' and most atheists views of morality, which you can get a better idea of here:
Dawkins' reference to the Bible and the Quran is dealing with the fact that they actually condone slavery, rape and misogyny, ethnic cleansing, child murder, infanticide and other moral abominations. Pre-civil war, Southerners, (especially evangelical preachers), actually quoted many biblical passages (from Yaweh-Moses/Jesus/Paul) to support slavery. There are no passages which could be quoted prescribing abolition. Yet, most Christians oppose slavery and many forms of misogyny... in other words, even Christians get their morals from a source other than god, even contradicting and decrying his morals. That source is plain and simple human philosophy and reasoning.