When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.
—1 Corinthians 13:11
Having doubts about God and Christianity? Me too.
I think that’s how it starts with many ex-Christians. Just as children grow in knowledge and begin to uncover reasons to doubt the existence of Santa, some adults likewise begin to have doubts about the existence of God or the stories found in the Bible.
For children, doubts about Santa begin to manifest with rational questions like:
- How can Santa visit billions of kids in just 24 hours?
- Does Santa really have elves that build toys?
- Can reindeer really fly?
- How can Santa climb up and down all those chimneys?
It’s through asking questions that we uncover the greater truth about our world. Sure, some adults will continue to offer excuses in defense of Santa, and this may keep the child content for awhile, but eventually knowledge, experience, logic, and reason will move them past such magical thinking.
Similarly, doubts about God and Christianity begin to manifest with questions like:
- Was there really a talking snake?
- Did God really flood the entire world?
- Did Joshua really make the sun stand still?
- Did Jonah really spend three days inside the belly of a whale?
- Does God really have a reason for allowing children to suffer?
- Does God really know who’s been naughty or nice?
These doubts lead some of us to Google, where some Christian sites like AnswersInGenesis or GotQuestions.org keep our doubts at bay for awhile (especially if we stop there). But do these answers really represent the most reasonable world view? Are are they just intelligent-sounding explanations for magical thinking? And will they hold up to criticism?
The Questioning of My Faith
My personal faith began to wane one Sunday morning as I reread the first few chapters of Genesis. I’d been a fundamentalist Christian for over 30 years, as much as I loved God, these stories I’d read a hundred times began to seem far too much like a fairy tale. Talking snakes? Talking donkeys? It was too far removed from the reality of the world that I knew. It was as if my knowledge, experience, logic, and reason had finally grown to the point where I could no longer read the stories the way I did when I was younger.
The next Sunday I stayed home from church. I realized I’d never get both sides of the story from the pulpit. My whole life I’d only ever listed to one side of the debate, and I knew it was because I didn’t want to believe anything else. But still… what did the opposition have to say? I had little idea, but I was pretty sure they were deceived.
I began researching the answers to my questions, mostly by watching debates, so I could hear both sides of the story. There was such a wide chasm between my creationist world view and the natural (agnostic/atheist) world view, that I though surely there would be far more evidence on one side than the other. I believed the Christian worldview would emerge victorious, but as much as I wanted to be proven right, I wanted to know the truth even more. I only had one life to live, and I didn’t want to waste it believing in something that wasn’t true.
The Origin of 500 Questions
A few Sunday’s later, my pastor came to visit. We talked, I confessed my concerns, and he fed me the usual explanations I’d fed to others my entire life. He returned the following week, and in-between his visits I would write down a few questions as they came to mind, or as I discovered new things.
I began re-questioning everything I’d ever assumed, even silly little things like “Why do we eat?” And weighing the Christian explanation against the natural one.
I discussed these things with my pastor, and eventually we reached an impasse, and went our separate ways. While my pastor stopped coming, the questions did not. If I was about to risk eternal damnation for rejecting Christ, I’d better be darn sure I wasn’t mistaken.
So I began taking these questions one at a time, spending several days, weeks, or even months researching one and pondering the results here. I find the exercise therapeutic, educational, and even a bit reassuring. I hope you will also find the questions and ensuing conversations entertaining, educational, and occasionally humorous.
Now that I have been writing here for several years, I must confess that my faith as waned further and my confidence in a natural world view has grown. While it’s true my bias has changed, I remain open to new evidence that might change my mind. Just as I was willing to change my conclusions based on new evidence (as difficult as that was), I’m willing to return to a Christian view should strong evidence to the contrary come to my attention. These questions still remain intriguing to me, and I will continue writing until I reach my goal of 500 questions… or I die… or I get bored of the topic… whichever comes first.