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.
One of my favourite questions is to ask why they bother praying, if their god has a "perfect will".
No matter what your prayer is, it's either "in scope" with the "Plan", or it isn't. And since god can't be "omniscient" and still change its mind (wrap your brain around that paradox!) prayer is pointless.
well, the problem then becomes one of the description of 'free-will' which is not actually in the bible as described by the theology of men. god makes it very clear that all is foreknown and predetermined and that he is above and beyond what we consider time. calvin was quite accurate in his description of pre-destination as opposed to the armenian belief in free will.
IF we have free will, then the belief of predestination can not be true and most of the dogma of paul must be thrown out and all theological directives that indicate we chose to believe or not MUST become the norm in all of christendom, but that has never been accepted by the vast majority of theologians because IF we are truly free, then the god of the bible created us that way and his plan of salvation which relies on his ability to KNOW that man would fall and KNOW that we need salvation is clearly a fabrication.
IF predestination is true, then faith is god's gift to man though not all receive it, that being said, HOW can a just god condemn anyone who was NOT given this gift of faith with any integrity and any sense of justice. we then are merely lab rats to the god experiment of his creation, if that is true, then that is NOT a god i am willing to believe in... :D
from here, the discussion can go many different ways :D
and btw, in isaiah 45:7, it CLEARLY states that GOD is the author of evil! don't get many willing to discuss that one with me :D IF god sends evil our way, to 'test' us as naive christians want to believe to have any hope their god is still good, then he is evil incarnate, not lucifer! the ultimate fall guy! :D
And add to that the fact that Biblegod killed something like 3 million people in the Old Testament, and Satan is responsible for only ten - Job's family. And for that, he had the _direct permission of Yahweh to do so_.
I agree with the point you're making, but I imagine the response would be something along these lines:
Yes, the priest did a terrible thing, but if he truly accepted Christ, God is merciful and he will be forgiven and allowed into heaven (or whatever). The boy during the course of his short and tragic life had the opportunity to turn back to the church but instead made the decision to self destruct, thus hell.
Doesn't make any sense, but I suspect that would be very close to the rationalization that would be used to justify the boy's unending torture at the hands of his loving god, and the rapists eternal reward for apologizing. Or something.
yes very true indeed that is pretty much the only response available to them.
at which point i look puzzled and say "so you're saying that it is fair?"
either that or just change the word "rape" to "murder". repeat the question.
From their perspective it does appear to seem fair which causes me no end of frustration when having those sorts of conversations.
The problem with questions like these is that the theist doesn't have to have a logical argument in their minds. They flat out aren't playing the same game as you are. This is why Dawkins doesn't bother with debates.
yeah excellent point, but if you can ask these questions in front of those yet to make up their mind then you can expose the difference in the games we play...
to a great extent, all we can really do is drop doubt and questions into the sea of dogma and half-baked concepts of god and theology that most christians accept as fact without ever asking themselves why they believe that. for me, that is the part i enjoy the most.... leaving them thinking is NEVER a bad thing!
Sure I agree with you there. These are worthwhile questions to be asking and as james d has pointed out above, getting someone thinking is a really positive thing.
I just don't see questions like these winning any arguments with determined theists who's sense of what is and is not fair has been severely warped by the framework of their weird beliefs.