Questioning Faith: 500 Questions Every Christian Should Ask
1. Why don’t all people share the same creation story?
2. Why would God fill the oceans with water we can’t drink?
3. Why didn’t God clear out the Promised Land before the Jews arrived?
4. If we didn’t evolve, why do humans share so much DNA with chimpanzees?
5. Doesn’t Intelligent Design contradict itself?
6. How could God or the Universe just always exist?
7. Why can’t God lift a penny?
8. Why would God create birds that can’t fly?
9. Why can’t we call down fire from heaven? Again?
10. Why does God allow evil?
11. Doesn’t the existence of many religions discredit them all?
12. Why did God give His chosen people so little land?
13. Doesn’t faith make us more susceptible to delusions? (E.g. Harold Camping)
14. Why is God ignorant of His own creation?
15. Did God hang the Earth on nothing, or set it on pillars?
16. Why is Matthew the only gospel to mention that people rose from the dead after Christ’s resurrection?
17. Why does God allow children to suffer and die?
18. Why does belief in God and religion decrease as intelligence increases?
19. What evidence is there that humans have a spirit? Part 1: The Science of the Soul
20. What evidence is there that humans have a spirit? Part 2: Near Death Experiences (NDEs)
21. Why does God allow miscarriages, spontaneous abortions and still births?
22. Was God really hoping Adam would find a suitable partner among the animals?
23. Why doesn’t the Bible mention Neanderthals?
24. Why would God create conjoined twins? (Warning, contains graphic content)
25. If the earth is 6,000 years old, how can we see stars more than 6,000 light years away?
26. Why doesn’t God allow humans to regenerate limbs?
27. Do we choose our religion, or does God choose it for us?
28. If someone never hears the gospel, can they still go to heaven?
29. Was Jonah really swallowed by a whale?
30. Should we all stop having children?
31. Can God be both perfectly merciful and perfectly just?
32. Can prophecies prove the Bible is true?
33. Why would God give pigs better sex lives than humans?
34. Did God recycle our DNA to save time?
35. Wouldn’t Eden have become overpopulated?
36. Why do we only find advanced complexity in living things?
37. Is Jesus the Suffering Servant of Isaiah 53?
38. Does God appoint evil leaders?
39. Why does the Tasmanian Devil have 20 offspring but only four nipples?
40. Should Noah’s Ark be taken literally?
41. What is the meaning of eating?
42. Why does God allow animals to suffer?
43. Did the Bible accurately predict the future of Tyre (Ezekiel 26)?
44. Why would God make us so unintelligent?
45. Is the Bible inerrant? Does it matter?
46. How did marsupials migrate from Noah’s Ark to Australia and the Americas?
47. Can we “just know” that God exists?
48. Does homology infer design or common descent?
49. Why did the crowd choose Barabbas over Jesus?
50. Did Joshua really get the sun and moon to stand still?
I have another question to add to your list….Why doesn’t God punish bad people? I feel they are the most fruitful sometimes.
Because he isn’t real.
I think it’s a reasonable question, and I think Job (and a lot of other Jews) were once asking the same question. With little or no belief in an afterlife, and little visible benefit to serving God, it was pretty obvious that God wasn’t being very fair. It took the idea of an afterlife to make God appear fair once again.
Though this still raises the question: why does God let some people sail through life, while others must suffer through it? They’re both rewarded with the same eternity of heavenly goodness, but one had to do a lot more to earn it… which doesn’t seem fair at all.
Of course, if He doesn’t exist, that would answer the question.
Christians will just reply “God will punish bad people in hell”
I found an interesting site, not sure where this post is relevant, so I am posting it here.
It creates a whole list of all of the deaths caused or ordered by God. I was overwhelmed by its length. I’d heard of the killings in the OT before, but not on this scale! The site is somewhat biased, but it is definitely useful in gaining a sense of what was happening.
The argument for God killing people is that it is justified as the people were ‘evil’, [the commandment is "thou shalt not murder", not "thou shalt not kill", apparently meaning that jutified killings were okay] but while it may cover some of the deaths, most of them died for… interesting reasons, to put it mildly.
I think that problem of evil should make the list of 500 Questions. Even though the problem has be “solved,” I think that it is more that the original formulation was solved – not the problem itself. Here is something that kinds of strikes me –
1. Evil is defined as that which is against the will of god
2. God is characterized as not being able to act against his own will (*ie. god cannot commit evil or create evil)
3. God existed since eternity, before all other things
4. Evil had a beginning, meaning it was created. This follows logically from #3 (*since there was no being or will outside of god’s in the beginning, there could not have even been potential evil in the beginning as god could not violate his own will)
5. God created all things which were created
Conclusion #1 God created evil. This is impossible, as evil is against the will of God
Conclusion #2 At least one of the propositions #1-5 is false
Conclusion #3 If any of the proposition #1-5 are false, the popular notion of god is fundamentally flawed.
Note – Evil cannot be considered as simply the logical opposite of good, unless we are to grant that evil is eternal, as good (god) is eternal.
Note #2 -We cannot simply say that evil is the absence of good, as god is everywhere – meaning there is nowhere that he is not. Further, this would imply that evil existed in at least a potential form since the beginning. Should god have removed his good presence from a place – the place would have become evil. This is nonsensical as god’s nature is to be everywhere all the time, and therefore it is not possible for him to remove his presence from any place or time. Also, there were no beings or wills in the beginning other than god’s. Therefore, evil could not have existed even in potential, as there were no other wills, and there was no potential that god would violate his own will.
Actually, I do cover that one under question #10 (and the problem of evil comes up A LOT in conversations under question #17):
But I absolutely agree with your points, and I may need to expand on this question in the future since it’s such a critical one.
One closely related question I need to address is: “How do we define ‘good’?” Is good whatever God says it is, or does a definition of good exist outside of God and He abides by it?
If we define evil as “that which is against the will of god,” we presume that it is God who defines what is good or evil, and therefore He may choose to define everything as good. If that is the case, then even the actions of Satan could be considered good, simply because God says they are. God may even consider having people suffer eternally in hell as “good.” Basically, the word “good” loses all meaning, it’s just whatever God says it is (not what man might imagine). Ergo there is actually no such thing as evil, or acting against God’s will, because all that exists is exactly the way God wants it to be, and to God, it’s all good.
Now, I don’t necessarily agree with that nonsense, I’m just playing the devil’s advocate (pardon the pun).
Thanks for the reply. You are correct, you did go into it on #10. You know, I have thought about this a lot and I realize that believers almost always use the phrase “god allows evil,” instead of “god creates evil.” I just don’t think they have ever addressed where evil, or the potential for evil, came from in the first place. How can god allow something that god never created?
About your second point – most believers subscribe to the “Divine Command Theory.” It says that whatever god says – goes. Many of them would say that god would never say to do something bad – because god is good. They don’t seem to get the question. I have only seen one solution for this dilemma – called the “Euthyphro dilemma.” The supposed solution is that god’s nature is good, and from that good nature god gives commands – therefore they are neither arbitrary nor are they an appeal to an outside source.
I think that your question “but what does being good even mean?” is a good question as a follow up to that resolution to the dilemma. This is because it essentially brings us back to a kind of hybrid of your point and my point above: “when there was no one else but god, what could being “good” have possibly meant? In relation to who or what was god good? Were there any alternatives to being good? Who was the beneficiary of this goodness? And finally…..what is the essential nature/quality/essence of ‘good’ such that it is equally relevant in the timeless, spaceless dimension of god – in which nothing but god exists AND in the convoluted material world? In other words, how does ‘good’ have equal meaning as god exists alone, in a world where there are no relations between god and other things (because they didn’t exist,) AND in the flesh and blood material world?
Indeed, God must create it in order for it to exist. I once got into a conversation with a woman (Tina Mac, under question #17) who blamed Satan for evil. When I pointed out that God created Satan, she replied, “God did not create Satan, that is absurd.” So I pointed to a number of verses that illustrated that nothing in heaven or on earth was made without God, to which she replied, “God DID NoT Create Satan. Everyone but you seems to know that. That makes me angry that you would suggest such a horrible thought.” She never did say how she thought Satan originated, but it just goes to show that some people don’t give it much thought.
I’ll take a look at the euthyphro dilemma when I write about this one later, thanks!
wouldn’t that go into the category of the whole every one is born and free will lets them take whatever path they choose? I don’t know I think everyone who is put on this earth can do whatever they want
I recently heard Rick Santorum say that we need faith to be moral. I am offended by this remark. I am an atheist and a moral human. So am I the exception that proves the rule? If atheists are the only people without the understanding of how to be good, shouldn’t the entire prison population be atheist?
As someone else said, “You don’t need religion to have morals. If you can’t determine right from wrong, then you lack empathy, not religion.”
But there are good and bad atheists, it’s just hard to tell the good ones from the bad ones, because they don’t come with a label.
And like Steven Weinberg said, “Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.”
Interesting you left out questions about:
1. The origins of the universe
2. Why life exists
3. The historic accuracy of the New Testament and the claim of Jesus and his resurrection
4. The origin, nature and reasons for spiritual experiences
Or did I miss some questions?
1. I cover the origins of the Universe a bit under #6
2. and the origin of life under a bit under #5
3 & 4 I haven’t touched on yet, but I still have quite a few questions to go.
Love love love this blog! There are so many questions here I’ve thought about and am happy to see someone else putting them into words. Please keep the posts coming, as we are hungry for more.
Thanks. Working on more as I have time.
Hello, I actually read every single comment as I’m searching for an answer as well. I’m posting here to hopefully get the most replies
I guess the overall question is (as a questioned believer) if god doesn’t exist then why do we exist? Assuming you are correct, you live your life and then you die. You cease to exist. What is the purpose of existence if for only a brief second in time you are here. I’d argue that after you die then it is like you never existed at all. Point being I’d rather have never existed at all then to exist for a short time and then go back to non-existence. What is the point or purpose you aren’t going to remember anything and it will be like you have never existed before.
I am a big religious researcher as I am searching for the truth as well and agree the bible and all of Man’s other books are a system of control and for a time it has worked. The message of a two parent family that raises kids with morals certainly helps with society in general in developed countries. Which leads to undeveloped countries and where the true suffering lies.
Why would an all knowing all loving god create a world where suffering is allowed. A quote from the Matrix comes to mind, “The first Matrix I designed was quite naturally perfect, it was a work of art, flawless, sublime. A triumph equaled only by its monumental failure. The inevitability of its doom is apparent to me now as a consequence of the imperfection inherent in every human being. Thus, I redesigned it based on your history to more accurately reflect the varying grotesqueries of your nature. However, I was again frustrated by failure. I have since come to understand that the answer eluded me because it required a lesser mind, or perhaps a mind less bound by the parameters of perfection.”
If you can understand the point he makes then a God would be explainable. Because man is not perfect he couldn’t be perfect or we would reject existence. God created the big bang, with the intention of evolution into man. End of story. I can accept this because this would allow for an afterlife and meaning for existence.
Back to the suffering, if God created man, then why does suffering occur. With the explanation above it makes sense. Man allows man to suffer. Third world countries exist because we allow them too. Rapists rape children because we allow them too. Disease kills man because we haven’t evolved to the point of curing it. Imagine if we stopped being so greedy and directed all of our efforts to helping each other. This would be a much different world and suffering would be much less.
I can be very honest and blunt as I don’t understand this design and am still searching for answers and Occums razor certainly could be the answer here. But as in the invention of lying movie stated we could be making this up to comfort ourselves and lessen the suffering of others. Would be curious on others thoughts. It’s just hard to believe that we exist for such a short time remember nothing and thus truly don’t experience anything in the long run.
Hey Curious Soul,
When Christians lose faith, I’ve noticed the one thing that seems to cause them the most stress is the loss of eternal life, and I think this is pretty telling. This also seems to be one of your primary concerns. There’s a documentary from 2003 called “Flight from Death: Quest for Immortality” that you may want to check out. It discusses how we humans are the only animals to realize that death is inevitable, and so (in typical human fashion) we go about “fixing” this problem, by inventing ways to keep on living… even after death.
Thinking about it from an evolutionary prospective, we are the product of millions of organisms and animals that desired and fought to stay alive. So when we eventually evolved to the point where we were intelligent enough to realize that we can’t fend off death forever, we find the knowledge of our eventual demise to be in direct opposition to our most basic instinct: stay alive! So it’s not wonder we’ve struggled with it.
But just because life isn’t eternal doesn’t mean it doesn’t have meaning. You’re right that your life won’t have eternal meaning, but why does it have to be eternal to matter? It matters right now.
I too wouldn’t mind never having existed, since I wouldn’t even “know” to care. There are some (like Philosopher David Benatar) who say the best solution to end human suffering is to simply stop reproducing, and they may be right (I’m still on the fence about this one).
But now that I’m here, my life matters. It matters to me, and to everyone around me. And even though I won’t live forever, it’s nice knowing that there will always be a time in history when I once existed, and that my molecules will always be around. Also, having had kids, I feel like a part of me still lives on through them.
That said, I wouldn’t mind living a little longer than 80 years or so. But this is still twice as long as the average lifespan from 100 years ago, and there’s little doubt in my mind that, given time, mankind will eventually discover ways to help people live for as long as they want. So life may be “eternal” one day, but not for us.
Still… I imagine our present lot is still preferable to being born into a body that can NEVER die. After a few trillion years, life would get insanely boring, and we would likely long for death. In fact, some philosophize that we humans have already figured out how to live eternally, and for entertainment we created a Matrix-like game in which we forget everything so our world can become new and novel again. They’ve even suggested that atoms are mere pixels that make up our high-resolution world. (See “Through the Wormhole”, season 1). I don’t really buy into this theory; I think this is just a Matrix-inspired religion that exists to feed the same deep-seated need to evade death.
In the end, if something did bring matter into existence, we still need to explain what brought THAT something into existence. If it’s possible for an intelligent god to exist without cause, then it’s equally arguable that unintelligent matter could exist without cause. In fact, matter “just existing” is probably the simplest explanation, since it doesn’t require the invention of an additional and even more complex being to create it.
Thank you for the thoughtful reply. One of the reasons I posted this as I’m struggling with major depression and a sleeping syndrome that is causing immense amount of pain. Imagine having the talent at your finger tips but wasted potential because of physical disability beyond ones control. I’m searching for a meaning a reason to keep fighting. Quite frankly if there is nothing after death and that’s our destiny I’d rather be dead now. That being said I will respond to a couple of your points.
” it’s nice knowing that there will always be a time in history when I once existed, and that my molecules will always be around.”
I would disagree with this statement as you won’t ever know that you existed if this is all so in the end life will be meaningless as we are just a speck of dust in the wind (cliche sorry) Your statement about life means something to me right now again will be irrelevant in 100 years because you will no longer exist.
“Still… I imagine our present lot is still preferable to being born into a body that can NEVER die. After a few trillion years, life would get insanely boring, and we would likely long for death.”
I agree with this I don’t think I would want this but time/space is a relative human perception. If there was another form of existence I believe it would be very different and one that our minds cannot comprehend as currently constructed.
“In the end, if something did bring matter into existence, we still need to explain what brought THAT something into existence. If it’s possible for an intelligent god to exist without cause, then it’s equally arguable that unintelligent matter could exist without cause. In fact, matter “just existing” is probably the simplest explanation, since it doesn’t require the invention of an additional and even more complex being to create it.”
Existence = consciousness, this is the scientific principle that I struggle with the most. I’ve read countless articles that scientifically can’t prove how this began. I think therefore I am is a reasonable answer but that doesn’t explain origins and purpose.
I forgot to add all of the NDE’s. Those are the one thing that gives you hope. Could it be that a mass amount of endorphin’s are pushed to the brain during what it perceives death, perhaps. But reading many where they account for writings on the wall or people around them that they would have no way else of knowing if they are clinically dead doesn’t mean add up. I also had a dream a few years back where I was surrounded by people that I had no idea who they were and there was a man preaching of love/respect to all human kind. The feeling I had in this dream was unlike any other emotion I’ve ever felt or experienced. Again maybe the brain playing tricks but certainly didn’t seem like it at the time.
The thought of randomness and the miracle of life still just doesn’t seem to add up in my feeble mind. If our purpose to exist is to just exist that’s pretty damn depressing. This will most likely mean the extinction of the human race sooner than later, by a nuclear war or the creation of a more powerful AI sentient race that will wipe us out. (But at least human suffering will cease to exist)
Quite frankly if that’s the case we should throw out our economic principle’s and work to make every persons life better on this planet. (Maybe not a bad idea anyways.)
“Hope, it is the quintessential human delusion, simultaneously the source of your greatest strength, and your greatest weakness.” I guess one can only hope there is more to this existence and that when we die we are no longer bound to the rules of this universe but to one that we do not yet understand or comprehend. Because isn’t that the point of what we are trying to find?
Well first of all, I’m sorry for your depression and pain, which are some of the worst things life has to offer. If it’s making you suicidal, I’d recommend at least talking to someone at the other end of a suicide hotline before making that choice. I’m probably not the guy you want to be talking to, since I’m more interested in finding truth than hope (but hopefully I can find both). You might also want to see a doctor about your depression if you haven’t already (if a pill can make you happier, so be it!).
“If our purpose to exist is to just exist that’s pretty damn depressing.”
I found that idea incredibly depressing, at least at first. I found that many ex-Christians go through the same depression. Being a believer, you’re promised a big reward, so it’s a huge let-down to acknowledge there is no such thing. You’re also taught that life is meaningless without God, so you assume this to be true when you first lose faith. But as most ex-Christians will testify, you get over it.
Eventually, I realized I DO matter. Even if I don’t matter to an eternal God, I matter to my kids, my wife, my mom and dad, friends, my dog, and especially myself. It’s true that none of this will matter in a billion years, but I won’t be around to notice, so I don’t really care about that future (just like I don’t care that my consciousness never existed for eons in the past). I don’t matter in the eternal sense, but I’m here NOW, and so now is all that matters. My life won’t last long, so I’m going to enjoy it while it lasts. I figure I can choose to look at the dark side and say, “Life sucks because sometimes there is pain and suffering,” or I can look on the bright side and say, “How fortunate I am to be alive if only for a short time!”
(I go over NDEs and consciousness a bit more under questions 19 and 20.)
But I’m not going to bullshit you, chronic pain can put a damper on EVERYTHING. If I was in constant chronic pain with no relief in sight, I don’t know if I’d have the strength to hold on (though I would probably try, just for my families sake, or until I found something that could help). But I’m kind of a wimp. The truth is that life can be a real bitch for some people, and if there is absolutely NO hope for relief, then I think the most merciful thing we can do in some cases is help people escape their torment.
“Quite frankly if that’s the case we should throw out our economic principle’s and work to make every persons life better on this planet. (Maybe not a bad idea anyways.)”
I agree. I think our goal as humans should be to make sure everyone can live with as little unnecessary pain and suffering as possible, so they can enjoy all the good things life has to offer (e.g. music, dancing, love, movies, food, sex, sex with food, books, laughter, even sights and smells). And I’d like to think mankind is headed in that general direction (see Steven Pinker’s “The Better Angels of Our Nature”). In fact, I just read about a possible vaccine for malaria. If we could spare half a million lives every year, I think that would be cause to celebrate. These lives matter to a lot of people… at least for now.
Appreciate the response and yes. I have been seeking plenty of help, whole team of dr’s working on it!
Thanks for the conversation. Hope they find something that helps!
Hey 500 Questions.
I just wanted to let you know that I am in the same boat as you, or at least the same boat you arrived at your present understanding in. I have been a church going human since 1983 when I discovered the joys of the youth group community. I had friends and a sense of purpose that gave me a new and exciting zeal for life.
But I always felt somewhat inferior to everyone else in the church. I always felt that I was drinking milk, while they were onto the hard stuff. I couldn’t believe like they could. This has gone on for 30 years.
But during those years the same questions kept reverberating in my head. Those questions are articulately outlined on your site. These are things I never thought I could ask because it would demonstrate a lack of faith and understanding in God’s word. But here you are asking them in a cordial and polite manner.
The straw that broke the camel’s back and brought me to your site, was when my pastor preached on a couple of things that he announced as being stories, or fables. He suggested that you need to search for writing styles in the word that will allow you to decipher a literal story from a metaphorical one, or a fable if you like. I sat bolt upright and listened intently because this was something I had never heard from the pulpit. The obvious question is…. how much else is made up?
The problem I have with the realisation that I was not drinking milk, but rather demonstrating a healthy skepticism, is that now I feel a tremendous sense of loss. I feel that I may have been cheated for 30 years and that a friend I thought I had, is just a figment of an author’s imagination. It’s like finding out that Jk Rowling made up Harry Potter. He’s actually fictional, even though I spoke to him everyday. It makes for a lonely life.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m happily married with magnificent and successful kids. I love them more than life itself and they literally keep me alive. But the dilemma is… Why exist, why make them exist? So they can make their kids exist? Wow. That is so pointless. This is so hard to cope with.
I find myself devouring each and every question you raise and I cannot fault your logic. I am so tempted to share your questions with my pastor, the one who said that the story of Job was a story akin to one of Aesop’s fables. But I am scared that it would rock his world and shake him to his core. I love this man because of his honesty and openness, which has gotten him Into trouble with the fundamentalists amongst the congregation, but even though he is open to new suggestions and nonreligious ideas, I’m not sure he’s ready to accept the idea that there is no God. I don’t even know that I have dealt with that concept yet. After 30 years it’s a hard ideal to surrender.
I’d like to ask you to pray for me, but to who?
Anyway, the point of this, my first post was to encourage you to keep posing these questions, because people like me need to know that the same questions I have are being pondered by someone with the intelligence, resources and time required to deal with such fundamental and mind blowing concepts.
Hi Highlander, thanks for your kind post.
I know what you mean by the sense of loss. Just believing that God, heaven, and eternal life exist — and then having that belief taken away — can be pretty devastating. I probably spent a good two years in depression, learning to cope with this new reality.
Also, being in church for so long, you’re often told that life is pointless without God, so you tend to believe it. If there’s no eternal life, what’s the point? It may be that part of the reason religion “evolved” in the first place was to help us cope with issues of death and loneliness (among other things). So without religion, we get thrown back into those problems.
But after awhile, I started asking myself questions like, “Well… what’s the purpose of ETERNAL life?” Sure, there’s more of it, and we’d no longer fear death, but after awhile we may LONG for death. Maybe death is a good thing. I wouldn’t want to be born into this world with no way to ever escape it. In fact, a world where we die is surely better than a world where most people end up in hell forever.
As I said to Curious Soul above, “Eventually, I realized I DO matter. Even if I don’t matter to an eternal God, I matter to my kids, my wife, my mom and dad, friends, my dog, and especially myself. It’s true that none of this will matter in a billion years, but I won’t be around to notice, so I don’t really care about that future (just like I don’t care that my consciousness never existed for eons in the past). I don’t matter in the eternal sense, but I’m here NOW, and so now is all that matters.”
But you’re touching on some pretty tough philosophical questions when it comes to children. I have to admit, I still struggle with the soundness of David Benatar’s argument that the most logical conclusion is to stop reproducing. When we reproduce, we create suffering where there previously was none. However, I’m an optimist, and so I like to look at pain and suffering as just the cost of admission for this ride.
I also like to think that part of our purpose is not only to make this generation better, but to also help make the world better for future generations. I believe that our future human offspring will eventually conquer disease, aging, and even death, and that there will be drugs that will make people happy, so there will no longer be depression and suffering (unless people wish to experience it). People will spend their lives perusing whatever interests them, and exit this world when they’re good and ready (perhaps after raising their own replacements). And our great, great, great grandchildren will live happily ever after… until the Universe ends.
And what was the point? It was FUN. The sights, the smells, the food, the music, the movies and books, the laughter, the touching, the art and shows, the video games, the new discoveries, sports, playing, swimming, exercising, flying, riding, playing in the sun, exploring animals and the Universe, and then sharing all this great stuff with the next generation before we respectfully bow out when we’re done enjoying ourselves.
This perfect future isn’t for us, but it can’t happen without us. We already have it MUCH better than our ancestors, thanks to their hard work and sacrifice, and hopefully our offspring will have it much better than we do. And who knows, maybe they’ll look back at us like we look at our ancestors and wonder, “How did they ever survive in those conditions?”
Hi 500Q and Highlander,
All I wanted to say was, I really applaud you both for being able to make a decision to leave behind your religion. Don’t get me wrong! I’m not saying it was a good or bad thing, because religion is more a subjective topic, and it’s up to everyone to decide what they think is right.
My point is that I think it’s really hard to question things that have been taught to you as accepted truth for years, let alone leave it behind completely, and religion is a stellar example of this – personally I never had any significant Christian influences in my early life, but when I did learn about it, I thought about it and it occurred to me just how easy it would be to hand over my life to a creator, taking the reins for me and watching over me as a ‘guardian angel’ 24/7. And not only a ‘guardian angel’, but one with unlimited power and unlimited knowledge. I can’t say I speak for everyone but for me that is extremely tempting – and I wasn’t even brought up Christian. So I imagine for you having had ample amounts of Christian influence for years, it must have been many times harder. It takes lots courage to do that sort of thing, and that’s what I wanted to say =)
Thanks Alpha. I’m still on a journey of discovery. Trying to keep an open mind, looking for the things that make sense. Thing is… Not much in life makes much sense at all. Except of course that I love my family more than life itself. That at least seems to make sense to me.
So I know you’ve got about 450 questions left to answer, but I have to share one of the things I’m finding difficult to reconcile. For 30 years I’ve been taught that there will be eternal consequences for our actions in this world. That idea made it feasible to accept the idea that really bad things can happen on Earth because they’ll be dealt with later. Take that concept away and it simply means that you can do whatever you want, just don’t get caught. The vilest child abusers, the most despicable murderers will not be held to account for their actions. All they have to do is not get caught. This is a pretty difficult thing to come to terms with after a life in the church. An eye for an eye has no meaning for the criminal who is never discovered.
I’d love to hear 500q’s take on it.
Yep, haven’t really gotten to many questions about ethics and morality (except for a little in question #28), but I plan to.
Christianity certainly has a way of helping us cope with life’s biggest problems, and the unfairness of life is one of them. Those leaving Christianity are forced to deal with the problems that they thought religion had resolved. The biggest one I usually hear about is coping with death, but the issue of injustice is also a fascinating one.
The bottom line is that life is unfair. Criminals get away with crimes, and nature gets away with killing babies. It is what it is, and all humanity can do is try to rectify the situation.
However, that being said, in cases of child abuse and murder, I wouldn’t say anyone truly “gets away” with anything. Happy, well-adjusted people don’t usually go around murdering people and abusing children, there is something wrong with them, and I don’t envy them for a moment. These people have to live with themselves, and with the guilt that eats away at them (if they have any empathy at all), and the possibly of getting found out.
Case in point: I recently read a story about a father who raped his daughter for many years (starting at age 9). As much as I want to hate this sick bastard, he was also molested as a child. I’m not saying that’s an excuse, but had he been raised in a loving home, things may have been different. I think sometimes our environment leads us to make poor decisions. Anyway, even if this guy got away with it, I wouldn’t want to be him.
I’d like to think that if these criminals were in their right mind, they wouldn’t commit these crimes — something is wrong with them. Maybe they had a rough childhood, maybe they feel unloved, maybe they’re immature or not right in the head, maybe they’re a victim of crime or the system, or maybe they lack empathy. (As someone once said, if you can’t determine right from wrong then you lack empathy, not religion.)
But when people are thinking clearly (and there is no competition for resources), I think most people are capable of making reasonable decisions and doing the right thing. But there are a lot of things that can get in the way of this.
So even without faith in ultimate justice or karma, I have faith in humanity and our ability to eventually reason out right from wrong, and I think we’re getting better and better at it. If a few people can’t think clearly, empathize, or cooperate, their situations should probably be pitied.
500. I just wanted to encourage you in your writing. I don’t know whether WordPress tells you how many people are looking at your blog, like ebay tells you how many watchers you have, but I want you to know that I am working my way through every post, comment and argument for the second time and questioning every word. I’ve never been one to take things at face value, so your topics and the comments and arguments they evoke are compelling. Be encouraged.
Thanks Highlander, that is encouraging. I must admit, I sometimes DO get discouraged, especially when I keep butting up against the same excuses over and over again (faith, fall of man, etc.). But then — because WordPress does show you how much traffic you’re getting and where it’s coming from — I’ll follow a link back to some random stranger who has posted a positive remark on Twitter, Reddit, ex-Christian.net, or some other site.
I’m in the process of moving, so things will probably slow down a bit, but I’ve got at least a dozen other questions I’m refining at the moment that promise to be interesting. Thanks for the encouragement!
I stumbled across this list recently and wanted to say that I was very impressed with it. As a former Christian who became an agnostic about a year ago, I have asked and researched some of these questions during my de-conversion, but there are many more question in the list that are new to me. The well thought out details and research within this list force people on both sides of the issues to examine the questions and challenge their own beliefs. The thoughts in this list will be helpful for me as I continue to discuss these issues with friends and family and will allow me to better explain the reasoning for my own beliefs.
I do have a couple suggestions for potential future questions for the list. Both of these questions are related only to the Christian faith, but I found them very interesting and disrupting when I began trying to objectively research the faith I had held for about 20 years.
The question is, “Why were Jesus’ predictions of the second coming and end of times incorrect?” Throughout the gospels, Jesus clearly states that the second coming is at hand and would happen within his generation (Mark 13:30, Matthew 19:27-28, Luke 21:32-33). Other new testament authors clearly believe that they were in the end of days (1 Thessalonians 4:14-15, Revelation 1:1, 1 John 2:18). Even C.S Lewis found this these predictions to be embarrassing http://whatdidijuststepin.blogspot.com/2009/10/most-embarrassing-verse-in-bible.html. Imagine the disappointment of 1st century believers if they knew that 2000 years later, we are still waiting.
Another interesting question about the new testament is, “Why does Jesus only explicitly claim to be divinely God in the book of John?” With the importance of this revelation, you would expect to see Jesus making this claim throughout his ministry. It would also seem careless of the writers of Matthew, Mark, and Luke to leave out this important detail if Jesus truly made these claims of divinity.
Thanks for sharing you thoughts and writing this list. I appreciate your attention to detail, humor, and objectivity as you write about these complex issues.
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