I was raised a Baptist but was never particularly devout. I went through a short period as a “born-again” Christian, but eventually came to the personal realization that the God of Christianity probably did not exist. The camel-back-breaking straw grew out of many conversations I had with a close co-worker, an atheist -- primarily concerning the "problem of evil".
I began to refer to myself as an agnostic and gave the subject little thought for years. It took a protracted email debate with a proselytizing, born-again Christian on the subjects of “evolution versus creationism” and “arguments for the existence of God” to solidify my lack of belief. As a side benefit, my research for the debate uncovered a “label” that applied almost perfectly – Secular Humanist. I don't agree with all the tenets of Humanism (I'm pro-choice and a firm believer in the death penalty, for example), but the rest mirrors my personal philosophy very closely. "Freethinker" is another term with which I identify closely.
I've enjoyed debates, discussions, and "arguments" about religion. It has never been my specific intention to diminish the faith of those with whom I discuss it. Any increase in knowledge and understanding is a “good” thing, and a successful argument can only serve to broaden, define, and bolster one’s beliefs. Any type of blind faith is a bad thing.
The thoughts, problems, conclusions, faults, and arguments that follow are the foundation stones of my lack of belief. All Bible verses are quoted from the King James version.
I. If a “loving God” exists, why is there so much pain, suffering, and “evil” in the world?
Two presumptions of Christianity are that:
1. God is omnipotent, and
2. God is omniscient.
It is a fact that tens of thousands of defenseless children and infants die each day from starvation or horrible diseases. Continually, children are victims of kidnapping, rape, torture, and murder by pedophiles. How could an omnipotent, omniscient god allow these innocent human beings to suffer so?
1. God is unable to stop or control these events. If so, He’s not omnipotent, and therefore isn’t worthy of worship. Or,
2. God could, but chooses not to stop or control these events. If so, such a callous, uncaring and indifferent god isn’t worthy of worship. Or,
3. God doesn’t exist and is solely the mythical creation of ancient men who sought to both explain the unknown and to establish control over the actions of other men.
Explanations that the ways of God are just too mysterious for us mortals to understand are insufficient. There can be no possible moral justification for such meaningless, purposeless, and “evil” acts.
II. Miracles, by definition, contradict science.
The “evidence” for biblical miracles comes solely from the Bible. The existence of miracles defies rationality. Apparently, God thought it necessary for Jesus to perform miracles to convince others. But merely reading about a supposed miracle that happened 2,000 years ago, is far less convincing that witnessing one yourself. Why were miracles necessary then, but not necessary now?
It's all too commonly said, "It's a miracle!" The few who survived the WTC attacks lived because "it was a miracle". Were the 2700+ who perished unworthy in some way?
It's a "miracle" that so many churches survived the tsunami in southeast Asia in December 2004. Why isn't it a "miracle" that the tsunami killed over a quarter of a million people?
Why do religious "visions" always appear in the "correct" religious context? Catholics see the Virgin Mary on a tortilla, Muslims see Muhammed on a sand dune. Why didn't Native Americans a thousand years ago see Jesus Christ?
III. If God created the universe, why does the persuasive evidence of science compel so many to conclude that the unguided process of evolution accounts for life?
Is there any justification, other than “faith”, for a belief in creationism? If so, what observations or physical evidence can be presented?
If the fossil record is not evidence of the evolution of life on this planet, then God either put it there to deceive us or trick us into believing something that isn't true. Why would He do such a thing?
IV. If God is morally pure, how can He sanction and even order the slaughter of innocent children as the Old Testament says he did?
The God of the Bible - a hateful, arrogant, sexist, cruel being who can't tolerate criticism. I wouldn't want to live in the same neighborhood with such a creature!
The biblical god is a macho male warrior. Though he said "Thou shalt not kill," he ordered death for all opposition, wholesale drowning and mass exterminations (How many infants and children were killed by God in the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah? How many infants and children were killed by God during the "Great" flood?); punishing offspring to the fourth generation (Ex. 20:5); ordering pregnant women and children to be ripped up (Hos. 13:16); demanding animal and human blood to appease his angry vanity; is partial to one race of people; judges women to be inferior to men; is a sadist who created a hell to torture unbelievers; created evil (Is. 45:7); discriminated against the handicapped (Lev. 21:18-23); ordered virgins to be kept as spoils of war (Num. 31:15-18, Deut. 21:11-14); spread dung on people's faces (Mal. 2:3); sent bears to devour 42 children who teased a prophet (II Kings 2:23-24); punished people with snakes, dogs, dragons, drunkenness, swords, arrows, axes, fire, famine, and infanticide; and said fathers should eat their sons (Ez. 5:10).
Is that nice? Would you want to live next door to such a person?
Here's another example, in 2 Samuel 24 when God moved David to take a census, then it turns out that it was sinful for David to have taken a census (even though God does not lead people to sin according to James 1:13), then God punishes David for this sinful act by killing 70,000 other people. 1 Chronicles 20 retells this story with Satan in the role of inciting David to sin by taking a census, thus revising the earlier version to get God off that hook. However, God still punishes David by killing 70,000 people whose only apparent crime was to have been among those David counted in his somehow sinful census.
1 Sam. 15:3 Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.
This was apparently done because their ancestors had done something to displease God several centuries earlier.
V. If Jesus is the only way to heaven, then what about the billions of people who have never heard of Him?
If you must accept Jesus as your Savior in order to be saved, what about the billions of beings that are born and raised to believe OTHER religions? Surely, God couldn’t believe that ALL children born and raised their entire lives as Moslems, with no impartial or unbiased exposure to Christianity have any realistic chance of being converted.
VI. If God cares about the people he created, how could He consign so many of them to an eternity of torture in hell just because they didn’t believe the right things about him?
If you must accept Jesus as your Savior in order to be saved, what about the billions of beings that die as fetuses, infants, and who are mentally deficient? It would be impossible for them to accept Jesus. So are they are condemned to spend eternity in hell because of conditions over which they had no control?
Deu32:4 He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.
This verse says God is just, but where is the justice?
For justice to exist, the punishment must fit the crime. No matter how many “sins” or bad deeds one commits in this world, there must be a reasonable limit for an appropriate punishment. A sentence of eternal punishment in hell is incomprehensible.
Why are there so many religions that all proclaim to be the correct and only true religion?
Could you – personally – hold someone’s hand over the flame of a gas stove while they writhed and cried out in agony? Could you hold it there FOREVER???
We find it repugnant that Hitler persecuted, tortured, and killed Jews like Anne Frank. But God, because Anne Frank did not accept Jesus as her savior, will hold Anne Frank over the flame FOREVER.
VII. If God is the ultimate overseer of the church, why has it been rife with hypocrisy and brutality throughout the ages?
The Crusades? The Inquisition? The Salem Witch Trials? The near extermination of native Americans? Adolph Hitler’s claim to be a Christian and that his extermination of the Jews and others was morally correct?
VIII. Why are the morals espoused the Bible so suspect?
There are MANY “shall nots” concerning sexual relations between a man and his female relatives, but nowhere in the Bible is pedophilia prohibited. Nowhere in the Bible is rape specifically prohibited. On the contrary:
Deu22:28 If a man find a damsel that is a virgin, which is not betrothed, and lay hold on her, and lie with her, and they be found; Deu22:29 Then the man that lay with her shall give unto the damsel's father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife; because he hath humbled her, he may not put her away all his days.
These verses seem to me to indicate that rape (of a virgin) is “OK” as long as the rapist pays the girl’s father and then marries her (unless they aren’t “found” and then it’s not a problem – the rapist gets off scot-free).
Num31:15 And Moses said unto them, Have ye saved all the women alive? Num31:16 Behold, these caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to commit trespass against the LORD in the matter of Peor, and there was a plague among the congregation of the LORD. Num31:17 Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him. Num31:18 But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves.
The implication here is that they’d be kept as sex-slaves, but even if they were only to be kept as "regular" slaves, it’s still ridiculous from a moral point of view.
“Thou shalt not rape,” seems to me a reasonable and desirable, if not mandatory, commandment – certainly much more so than:
Exo23:19 The first of the firstfruits of thy land thou shalt bring into the house of the LORD thy God. Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother's milk.
The morally repugnant concepts of original sin, depravity, substitutionary forgiveness, intolerance, eternal punishment, and humble worship are all beneath the dignity of intelligent human beings and conflict with the values of kindness and reason. They are barbaric ideas for primitive cultures cowering in fear and ignorance.
IX. Why does the concept of prayer raise so many problems?
Didn't the six million Jews who perished in Hitler's concentration camps pray? Why did God ignore them?
Why Pray? If it changes God's mind then he is not sovereign. If it does not change God's mind then it is superfluous.
X. Why does God demand that we love and worship Him?
Either love the Christian God or you'll be punished. How can it be a true love when it's a contingent love? Aren't love and respect earned?
XI. Why do some of the beliefs and teachings of Jesus seem so questionable?
Jesus is a chip off the old block. He said, "I and my father are one," and he upheld the Old Testament law.
Mt. 5:18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.
He preached the same old judgment: vengeance and death, wrath and distress, hell and torture for all nonconformists. He believed in demons, angels and spirits. He never denounced the subjugation of slaves or women. Women were excluded as disciples and as guests at his heavenly table. Except for hell he introduced nothing new to ethics or philosophy. He was disrespectful of his mother and brothers; he said we should hate our parents and desert our families.
Mt. 10:35 For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. 36And a man's foes shall be they of his own household.
Lk. 14:26 If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.
So much for "Christian family values."
Jesus denounced anger:
Mt. 5:22 But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.
but was often angry himself:
Mk. 3:5 And when he had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, he saith unto the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it out: and his hand was restored whole as the other.
He called people "fools":
Mt. 23:17 Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gold, or the temple that sanctifieth the gold?
Mt. 23:19 Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gift, or the altar that sanctifieth the gift?
Jesus called people "serpents":
Mt. 23:33 Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell? though he warned that such language puts you in danger of hellfire (Mt. 5:22).
Mt. 10:34 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.
So much for "Peace on Earth."
He irrationally cursed and withered a fig tree for being barren out of season:
Mt. 21:19 And when he saw a fig tree in the way, he came to it, and found nothing thereon, but leaves only, and said unto it, Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever. And presently the fig tree withered away.
He mandated burning unbelievers:
Jn. 15:6 If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.
The Church has complied with relish.
He stole a horse:
Lk. 19:30 Saying, Go ye into the village over against you; in the which at your entering ye shall find a colt tied, whereon yet never man sat: loose him, and bring him hither. 31 And if any man ask you, Why do ye loose him? thus shall ye say unto him, Because the Lord hath need of him. 32 And they that were sent went their way, and found even as he had said unto them. 33 And as they were loosing the colt, the owners thereof said unto them, Why loose ye the colt? 34 And they said, The Lord hath need of him. 35 And they brought him to Jesus: and they cast their garments upon the colt, and they set Jesus thereon.
He told people to cut off hands, feet, eyes and sexual organs.
Mt. 5:29 And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. 30And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. Mt. 19:12 For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother's womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.
You want me to accept Jesus, but I think I'll pick my own friend, thank you.
XII. If the Bible is “God’s word” why are there so many real or apparent contradictions?
Why would God allow so many translational problems? Why wouldn’t He make the Bible a simple, clear, easily-understandable book to reach ALL people without introducing suspicion and uncertainty? Why has God given us real, physical evidence for an earth more than 4 billion years old and for the existence of evolution? Was His intent to deliberately mislead us?
The Biblical account of Noah and the ark presents many grave problems for me:
1. A boat of the stated size, made strictly of wood, could not support its own weight, much less the weight of the animals and supplies to be added to it.
2. There is no physical, scientific evidence of a worldwide flood with floodwaters covering all the highest mountain peaks.
3. All the water of the earth, including ice-caps, is, by far, insufficient to cover all the land-masses. Where did all this additional water come from? Where did it go?
4. Disregarding the conflicting references to the number of “clean” animals loaded aboard the ark, two animals of each species could not possibly fit in the space defined by the dimensions of the ark.
5. How could Noah (even with the help of his family members) gather up a male and female of all 500,000+ species of beetles, when even entomologists with microscopes often find it impossible to differentiate the sexes (not to mention all the other species of insects, birds, mammals, reptiles, marsupials, and invertebrates)?
6. Even if they COULD have been gathered and sexed, how much time would it take to load each pair of animals aboard the ark, find a place for them, and provide for the varied and diverse physical and environmental needs of each species?
7. What did all the carnivorous animals eat in the days and weeks after they left the ark and before their prey animals had reproduced?
8. How was a viable population established for all those different species of animals with only a single breeding pair of each to provide a genetic base?
9. What is the explanation for the geographical isolation of many species of animals (and plants)? For example, why are kangaroos only found in Australia, and why were tomatoes and potatoes only native to the Americas?
10. I find it impossible to believe that out of all the people on the face of the earth at that time, ALL were unworthy of God’s grace except Noah and his family. ALL were killed by the flood. ALL presumably went to hell for eternity.
11. Why were all but a pair of each of the animals destroyed? Had they all become wicked and evil too? This story is too similar to prior “flood myths” that originated in other cultures. Its ludicrous impossibility casts aspersions on the validity and truth of ALL the stories in the Bible.
Are people saved by “faith”?
Mark16:16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.
John3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
Eph2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Eph2:9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.
Or are people saved by their deeds (works)?
Mat16:27 For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.
Mat19:16 And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? Mat19:17 And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. Mat19:18 He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Mat19:19 Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
Jas2:24 Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.
If children are not responsible for the sins of their fathers:
Deu24:16 The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin.
If the Bible says that children will not be punished for the sins of their parents, then why are all of us held responsible for the sins of Adam and Eve (original sin)?
Furthermore, if God really created Adam not knowing either good or evil:
Gen 3:22 And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:
then, how could such a harsh and enduring punishment as death for Adam and all his descendants possibly be just? Prior to Adam and Eve eating the fruit of the "tree of knowledge", they would have been unable to differentiate between right and wrong.
God's admonition that they were not allowed to eat that fruit would, therefore, have been meaningless to them in any "right/wrong" context. They would have been like an untrained puppy who's told by a master, "Don't pee on the rug!" Given the puppy's inability to comprehend the "wrongness" of peeing on the rug, it's ludicrous for the master to "blame" the puppy for "sinning".
Our secular courts are more just than God when they show mercy on people who cannot distinguish between right and wrong, such as children and the mentally handicapped.
And why isn't this doctrine of original sin found anywhere in the Bible except in Paul's writings? Why didn't Jesus ever mention it, or teach it?
The sun was stopped in its track for an entire day?
Josh10:12 Then spake Joshua to the LORD in the day when the LORD delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon; and thou, Moon, in the valley of Ajalon. Josh10:13 And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies. Is not this written in the book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day.
For this to have occurred, the rotation of the earth would have to have stopped and then restarted. Even if a miracle caused this phenomenon, why did no other peoples of the earth (many of whom were quite astronomically oriented) make a record of it?
Many Biblical individuals are claimed to have lived several centuries – some over 900 years. If man was created with such life-spans, why didn’t other cultures include records, legends, or stories of long-lived individuals? (Though there are some cultures that claim ancient kings lived tens of thousands of years, this is so obviously bogus that it couldn’t have happened and couldn’t have been derived from the stories in Genesis.)
Isa7:14 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
But only two other verses in the Bible contain the names “Immanuel” or “Emmanuel”:
Isa8:7 Now therefore, behold, the Lord bringeth up upon them the waters of the river, strong and many, even the king of Assyria, and all his glory: and he shall come up over all his channels, and go over all his banks: Isa8:8 And he shall pass through Judah; he shall overflow and go over, he shall reach even to the neck; and the stretching out of his wings shall fill the breadth of thy land, O Immanuel.
[an angel of the Lord, appearing to Joseph in a dream]: Mat1:21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. Mat1:22 Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Mat1:23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. [This is apparently a re-statement of the prophesy.]
Why is Jesus never referred to in the New Testament as “Immanuel”?
Which verse is correct?
2Chr36:9 Jehoiachin was eight years old when he began to reign, and he reigned three months and ten days in Jerusalem: and he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD.
2Ki24:8 Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he began to reign, and he reigned in Jerusalem three months. And his mother's name was Nehushta, the daughter of Elnathan of Jerusalem.
There are MANY other contradictory verses in the Bible. This seems odd for a work that was “divinely inspired” or “the infallible word of God”. If the errors are attributed to copyists, then the entire Bible is suspect. Who’s to say which portions were copied correctly and which weren’t? The prose of Biblical apologists is rife with "probably", "possibly", "maybe", "perhaps", "may have", "may not have", "could be", and "may be". Did God intend that his word be misunderstood? Did he want us to be confused?
Why are women denigrated?:
1Tim2:11 Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. 1Tim2:12 But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority
While slavery might have been “accepted” during both Old and New Testament times, we now know that slavery is WRONG. Aren’t moral absolutes eternal?
As Jesus was dying on the cross, he cried out:
Mark15:34 And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?
Why would he feel that God, his father, had forsaken him? Wouldn’t he have known he was NOT forsaken? Wouldn’t he have been able to “control” any amount of physical pain? Didn’t he know he would rise from the dead?
Excluding the works of biased Christian authors, there isn’t one writing outside the Bible in all of ancient history that clearly refers to the existence or miracles of Jesus of Nazareth. Those that are purported to only refer to the stories and myths surrounding Jesus or the Christ. And they were written well after the fact.
This prophesy of Jesus:
Mat16:28 Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.
This prophesy did not seem to come true, did it? Though the men standing there are long dead, aren’t we still waiting for the second coming?
XIII. Why did no contemporary writers chronicle the acts and life of Jesus?
Here we have a "great and wondrous" teacher who, over a period of about three years, drew tens of thousands of followers and listeners from many nations, who worked many remarkable miracles, yet no one wrote about him at the time. Not a word. Not a jot or a tittle.
How likely is it that Herod could have killed all the infant boys in a town and not one of his enemies and detractors (who carefully chronicled his many crimes, even quite trivial ones) would have even hinted at this one?
The “word of God” contains so many atrocities, inaccuracies, errors, contradictions, and absurdities, that it’s rendered totally unbelievable. The ineffective arguments of apologists that some verses should be taken figuratively and others literally raises the obvious question of which verses throughout the Bible are literally true? One would expect an actual “word of God” to be clear, accurate, and timeless. The Bible is none of these.
Since there are no irrefutable or even reasonable proofs of the existence of God, I am left with my lack of belief.
Location Tijeras, NM, US
Age I Joined 8
Why I joined My parents were members of the cult of Christianity, and they indoctrinated me.
Age I Left 26
Why I left A logical and reasonable examination of the facts revealed the farce.
What I was Baptist
What I am now atheist, freethinker, secular humanist, strong atheist, hard atheist
Recommended reading An aloof and critical reading of the Bible itself will reveal its many flaws, contradictions, immoralities, atrocities, inaccuracies, errors, and absurdities. Also helpful are:, "losing faith in faith" by dan barker, "why i am not a christian" by bertrand russell, "atheism, the case against god" by george h. smith, biblical errancy at http://members.aol.com/ckbloomfld/index.html, http://infidelguy.com, http://skepticsannotatedbible.com, talk origins.org, "the blind watchmaker" by stephen J. gould, "the demon-haunted world" by carl sagan, "the happy heretic" by judith hayes, "why people believe weird things" by michael shermer, www.csicop.org, www.infidels.org, www.religioustolerance.org, the skeptic's dictionary