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.
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.
As I always say, even the most stubborn can change their minds. I'm living proof of that.
At some point, these people will get tired of making excuses for their deity. Soon after, they'll realise an all-powerful god probably shouldn't need a puny human to fight his battles for him, or at least to work so hard to do so.
A god that isn't worth the effort is no god at all.
very good questions which go to the heart of the 'god' issue itself. the concept of grace was not found until Paul invented it after the book of acts when he laid out the doctrine of salvation by grace. NO theologian until Luther picked up on it until the 16th century, and he was almost killed, he was kicked out of the 'church' in rome for heresy, and started the entire protestant movement because the bible is very clear that the roman church was corrupt and wrong when it kept insisting that salvation was based on what one did while alive and thus indulgences and purgatory and limbo became ways the church continued to terrorize it's 'followers' into 'belief' in the holy roman church. hell was taught as a real place though it does not exist in the bible outside of the book of the revelation which many consider NOT true canon, but was added ONLY to allow the church to continue it's reign of terror.
so, as i see, the entire concept of salvation and god's grace are predicated on the concept that god is good and offers his mercy to those who accept it. that is what separates christians from the jew and the muslim, the other main abrahamic religions who see the old testament very differently than christians do. over the centuries, men developed 'theology' to address the very issue you raise in your point here. the concepts of free-will and predestination have divided christianity for most of it's 2000+ years and will continue to because as i have stated before, the concept of free-will is not in the bible. Adam and Eve were NOT given a choice because it is very clear from the text they had NO KNOWLEDGE of Good and Evil before they ate the fruit. ONLY after did they understand it. that is ONE of the biggest issues with the whole creation story as presented in genesis. IF god was unwilling to give us that information from the beginning, then how can he condemn the ENTIRE human race because of what happened in the first book of his "perfect" plan. IF genesis is true, then the god it reveals is using humanity as nothing more than toys and HE alone is responsible for ALL human suffering since the beginning of time.
I chose to believe differently! that is why these questions posed by you strike at the heart of the utter nonsense the salvation plan offers as found in the bible, and all religions in general, but particularly the bible which shows a god with the emotional depth of a fly!
the argument about varying degrees of heaven and hell are concepts that man has extrapolated from the bible to offer some sort of comfort that really bad people may make it, but as the bible says - by the skin of their teeth - and that their reward will not be as great as someone who was more worthy! this concept alone makes the entire concept of salvation lame and makes those who spout it as truth look less intelligent than many other species on this planet. a JUST god would NOT allow these variations on his offer. Man developed these ideas and called them god's words. for me, it is just easier to throw the entire book out as bullshit than to keep re-qualifying the words found therein.
well said sir.
"Concerning Adam and Eve, I'm not sure what they were lacking when they lacked the knowledge of good and evil. However, they were told not to eat of a particular fruit from a particular tree, and they violated that command. With us having to deal with their poor choice, I've heard it compared to representative government, i.e., we may not like what our representatives do, but we have to deal with the consequences of their actions. The same is true for Adam. He was our representative, and therefore we have to deal with the consequences of his action when he acted as the representative for the human race."
the biggest problem here is that god created them, apparently, with out the knowledge of good and evil, so the idea that him then saying "don't" means nothing! if you have any kids, you know that they must be taught that touching a burning fire will hurt them, we are not born with a concept of good and evil or there would be no need to spend so much time teaching it to our kids, yet we do, and still they either accept what we teach them or live there own life by their own choices. that is called personal responsibility, which, for some reason, the 'god' of the bible seems very happy to remove from his creation, which he states was very good... then repented of making them a few chapters later because the evil which he created <is 45:7> and he KNEW would befall mankind before he created them causing all men to be born sinful. as i see it, god is the one to blame for all of the evil in the world as the bible is very clear that he set it up that way. to me, that is a horrible 'god' to accept in any form. and using the example of government is not valid because you either vote for a representative or you have some form of dictatorship in which the state alone decides what is right for you. since we only have the bible saying in adam we all sinned, there is no reason to believe or accept that concept at all.
again, the concept of free will is NOT biblical. adam was NOT free to chose as he had NO knowledge of good and evil until after they ate the fruit. free will is man's attempt to explain the hatred god has unleashed on humanity by making it our fault, not his. this is one of the main reasons i am no longer a christian. i do agree with you when you ask why a god would set up the world the way he did, unless that god is NOT the good god he is proclaimed to be, but some evil being set on the destruction of his creation for his own pleasure... and as the bible states very clearly, it IS for his pleasure and his alone!
Bobby, you are welcome!
if you have questions, i will try to give you straight answers!
Let's change this to a scenario that christians believe they own: 9/11. Suppose a nice jewish girl working in the WTC is killed during the attack. She has never sinned, and lives according to strict jewish upbringing. She goes to hell because she doesn't believe in jesus. As the airplane comes into the building, the hijacker suddenly repents and asks jesus into his heart and is saved! He gets to go to heaven, even after killing 3000 innocent people. Is this fair?
no one ever said that the god of the bible was fair, only just, they are not the same concepts!
if he were fair, women would not be sex objects for the pleasure of the men of 'faith' nor would he randomly decide that this nation needs to be wiped out because they don't believe in him and that may corrupt his 'seed' nation of israel... fairness is never a consideration in either section of the bible, we just think and wish it were!