A Christian Theologian Wants Your Tough Questions…

Tony Jones is a Christian theologian and he has started a series in which he tackles the toughest arguments against Christianity:

… this series is for everyone who doubts. It’s for your friends who are agnostic and atheistic. It’s a place for them to email me a question, and get an honest answer — even if the answer doesn’t necessarily show Christianity in the best light. It’s a place for you to submit the biggest hurdle you have to fully giving yourself over to the Christian faith.

All the details on submitting your questions are here. Challenge him! Make him sweat!

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • The Great Ape

    we should just send him thousands of emails of “why should I believe without there being any evidence whatsoever?”.  Really, that’s the only argument that matters, there is no reason to believe that it’s anything more than fairy tales.

  • A3Kr0n

    Oh, Oh, I know how this works! You give him a question, then he spins a one hour logical ball of yarn around your head.

  • Matthew Prorok

    We can always hit him with the argument from natural evils or the Euthyphro dilemma.

  • GabyYYZ

    Done, it’s a doozy…keep your ear open for the question about OT God vs NT God…which is the correct one? Wondering how he’ll spin it.

  • jmckaskle

    There are no tough questions. The questions are easy to ask and easy to answer. If he answered honestly, he’d be an atheist.

  • http://twitter.com/samrussellnz Sam Russell

    Why would god bother to make religion? Here are the possible outcomes:

    If there’s a punishment for not following the correct religion, it’s either finite, or infinite. If it’s finite, then after the punishment, we still get eternity in heaven. If it’s infinite, then it’s a disproportionate punishment, and means god is a bastard.

    If there’s no punishment for not following the correct religion, then we all spend eternity together. Let’s do whatever we want in this life, or fastforward to the next.

  • Brasstacks2

    Tony don’t sweat over tough questions. Worst case scenario he’d just say “IDK & IDGAF.”

  • Fematheunicorn

    These sorts of challenges always end up disappointing. I’ve tried blogs, forums, friends, people on the street and countless hours watching videos all offering the same thing and they use the same kinds of answers every time. 

    If anything, spending the time to talk to him might be better for him – he might finally leave his archaic way of thinking and be enlightened.

    Although, I applaud his what he is doing as well as his enthusiasm. 

  • http://twitter.com/DaliDager Sherry Young

    I don’t doubt and have no questions beyond: “Why would anyone choose to believe in the supernatural?” 

  • theomni

    Unless he can deal with the whole “no evidence for God” issue, I don’t think any of the other questions are all that tough. It’s basically the same as arguing over superhero canon. Trying to stitch a bunch of different stories together to create a cohesive whole with an underlying internal consistency by dismissing or downplaying certain parts, emphasizing others, and retconning or outright dismissing others. 

  • Earl G.

    How about:  “You are a grown man who believes in magic.  How can you take yourself seriously?”

  • http://twitter.com/ErnestValdemar Ernest Valdemar

    Here’s the question I sent through his contact link:

    Modern science, as popularly understood, had been around for roughly two centuries. In that time, there have been numerous speculative theories, half-baked ideas, and outright hoaxes. Yet, science discards bad evidence and unsupported theories, and moves inexorably toward an evidence-based consensus.

    For roughly two-thousand years, Christian theologians have been struggling with the idea of God, inspired by the works of Aristotle, Plato, and the pre-Socratic philosophers of antiquity. At the same time, Jewish and Islamic scholars, Vedanta Hindus and Buddhists, and others have been wrestling with the same question.

    Science has converged on major consenses in the last two centuries. But the last two centuries of theology have yielded nothing.

    Why doesn’t theology converge on an answer?

  • Edmond

    This was what I submitted…

    I hope I’m in the right place, I wanted to submit a question for “The Questions that Haunt Christianity”. I am an atheist, and a gay man, and I’m troubled by the position that gay people have been put into because of Christianity’s pronouncements. So basically, my question is, WHY would homosexuality be forbidden by a god?

    In the religious world, when someone commits an ethical transgression, you call it a “sin”. The closest analogy in the secular world would be a “crime”. SOME sins are also considered crimes, and it’s easy to see why. Murder, theft, and lying, for example. We couldn’t run a society with people doing these things. You wouldn’t want anyone to murder you, or steal from you, or lie to you, so it’s a good practice not to do these things to others.

    But homosexuality doesn’t fit there. It’s NOT a crime. You certainly wouldn’t want anyone to force themselves sexually on you, and you shouldn’t do that to anyone else, but that’s called rape, and that’s different. Sexual contact between consenting adults is not a crime, and for good reason. Certainly, as a Christian, I’m sure you’d argue that NO ONE should be engaging in ANY premarital sex, gay OR straight, but Christian “policy” precludes even marriage for us. We are expected to forgo ANY kind of relationship, no matter what levels of love and commitment could develop from it.

    The fact is that gay people exist. They continue to be born. They continue to come to the self-realization that they are gay. The continue to embrace who they are, despite facing great hurdles. They are not out to disobey a god, or simply be rebellious. These are the only feelings we feel. This is the one and only way we forge relationships. Why should this be forbidden? If it were the will of a god that we should be straight, then it seems that it would be within his capability to MAKE us straight. These feelings should never have developed in the first place, if that’s what an all-powerful being wanted.

    It’s difficult to reconcile the idea of an “omnipotent” being, who allows people to feel this way, and yet forbids them to pursue the only kind of companionship that suits them in any meaningful way. I cannot accept the idea of an “omniscient” god, who could not foresee the climate of hatred and exclusion that this would cause for gay people.

    As an atheist, there are a 1000 questions I could ask which illustrate the barriers that keep me from finding religion credible. But as a gay man, this one affects my life most directly. It simply makes no sense for a god to forbid homosexuality, while still allowing gay people to exist. It smacks of a poor understanding of human sexuality, which is what we should expect if the book was just myth, written by primitives.

    A god could’ve explained that some people are simply LIKE THIS, and prepped the world for a more peaceful co-existence. A god could assure that his creations only feel heterosexual feelings. A god certainly should NOT equip people with a specific orientation, and then declare that orientation forbidden. So, if Christianity expects me to lend it my belief, then answer credibly: Why should homosexuality be forbidden? That is my question.

  • Guest

    define evidence.

  • Guest

    How can we be told all religions basically teach the same thing like the Golden Rule, and yet be told that theology have not yielded any consensuses?  It’s either one or the other.  Either all religions are basically one giant consensus on everything that matters, or they are fundamentally different.  One or the other. 

    Oh, and don’t try saying they’re all the same about morals, but fundamentally opposed on everything theological.  That simply displays a disastrous lack of knowledge of the subject.  

  • Guest

    You’re nothing but a glorified animal clinging to the illusion of meaning long enough to pass on your DNA before you die and rot in the earth.  Why not ditch the illusion, other than it makes you feel warm and fuzzy to think there is any reason to care?

  • Guest

    Yes, because we all know that the entire world completely accepted homosexuality until Christianity came along and made a stink about it. Right.

  • Guest

    Why would anyone choose to believe that the scientific method as understood in the 21st century can explain all reality and if it can’t, then that reality must not exist?

  • Baby_Raptor

    I went and had my say. We’ll see what I get.

  • Guest

    I take it you’ve not studied historical theology or the early church or the history of Christian thought or the development of doctrine or any such subject that would, you know, already have answered that question?  Just because you choose not to believe something doesn’t mean there isn’t an answer.  

  • Guest

    I dunno.  As an agnostic, I tried to be an atheist by answering the tough questions honestly, and ended up converting to religion.  So there you go.

  • DougI

    Sent one in:
    “According to Christian morality as described in the laws in the Bible, how should a woman be properly punished for being raped.  Should she be executed because she didn’t scream loudly enough therefore she wasn’t “legitimately raped” , or should she be sold off as property to her rapist to be raped again and again in the future?  Why should anyone, especially women, take Christianity seriously when the religion takes such a heartless view towards women and victims of rape?”

  • Patterrssonn

    Any chance you could make some kind of point?

  • http://twitter.com/ErnestValdemar Ernest Valdemar

    So, what’s the consensus? Is God omnipotent, omnibenevolent, and omniscient? Because then we’re back to the Epicurean trilemma, and we’re arguing 2500-year-old arguments all over again, and I have no patience for that.

    One reason I lose patience with Athiest vs. Theist blogs is that I’ve already read Lucian, and I don’t see any reason to go through all that again. I mean, my toga is still at the cleaners, and the Agora is full of Starbucks.

    Who can argue theodicy when there’s free Wi-Fi and new-age music on the sound system?

  • Earl G.

    All religions teach the same thing about morals?  What planet do you live on?  

    BTW, how’s that whole Golden Rule thing working out for the church these days?  What with the sexism, homophobia, child rape, etc., there’s no time left for silly golden rules!

  • Taxihorn

    Evidence: Anything that can be used to demonstrate the truth of an assertion. Assertions like: souls exist, souls exist as part of humans, souls exist as part of humans for eternity. Each must be examined for evidence, and without evidence, all we can consider is the plausibility of an assertion. In each case, the simplest answer is the most plausible: that we like to make up stories to explain ourselves, our relationships with others, and our environment. Soul theory seems almost as plausible as demon theory, or Christian God theory.

  • Pureone

    Oh, so Marcion was right? Cause I know his answer.

  • Patterrssonn

    Rationalizations aren’t answers.

  • Patterrssonn

    Now you’re just being silly.

  • Patterrssonn

    What do you mean glorified?

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

    How will Mr. Jones decide if his answer is a strong and successful answer? Will he be interested at all in whether or not we are satisfied with his answers to our questions, or only if he is satisfied with his answers?  Will he pursue us to sincerely gauge our satisfaction, or will he walk away, self-assured in a circular, insular, self-contained, self-confirming thought bubble?

    The only question worth asking hm is a request: “Please show me the evidence for the existence of the deity you describe.”

    Then it always comes down to what a skeptic accepts as evidence, and what a theist accepts as evidence, and theists most often have naively, childishly low standards for what is acceptable.

    I’ve asked for evidence many, many times, and what I’ve been given in response is nonsense about beautiful sunsets, babies’ smiles, and warm, happy feelings inside someone’s gut. I like sunsets and babies’ smiles too.  It’s not evidence, it’s emotion; lovely, human emotion that I can experience just as readily, just as vividly as anyone else.

    I’ve been given claims of fulfilled prophesies from an ancient book that offers nothing but self-references for its own veracity. That’s not evidence, that’s hearsay.  It’s a collection of stories that self-claims the stories are true without a shred of actual evidence beyond itself.

    And most of all, I’ve been given arguments. Tired, dusty arguments so old that many have Latin names. An argument is not evidence. An argument needs evidence. No matter how eloquent, no matter how elaborate, no matter how mind-numbingly long-winded it might be, if, at its foundation, an argument has no credible, acceptable evidence, then it’s just vibrating air, just a mouth going up and down.

    Please SHOW me the evidence.

    Don’t waste my time with any more sunsets, babies, warm fuzzies, ink on onionskin paper, or mouths going up and down.

  • Pepe

     What were the tough questions you tried answering honestly?

  • Troglodyke

    Why are you so angry?

  • Troglodyke

    Really…why so angry and combative?

  • Octoberfurst

     As I understand it most of the Greek and Roman world had no problem with homosexuality.

  • Gregory Lynn

    Here’s my question:

    I have always found Christianity–not Christians, mind you, but Christianity–to be fundamentally immoral.

    Adam and Eve were kicked out of the Garden of Eden for seeking knowledge of the difference between good and evil. They disobeyed God to do this and the moral of this story has to be that obedience is more important than seeking knowledge or caring what is right and what is wrong.

    How is this not immoral?

    The concept of Original Sin suggests that I deserve to burn in hell for something someone else did. 

    Even if what that person did was legitimately horrible, how is this not immoral?

    Atonement suggests that if someone beats me up and rapes my wife, they can apologize to God–but not me or my wife–and everything is okay.

    How is this not immoral?

    Thank you, 

  • Aaron Scoggin

    I’m just hoping he’s interested in giving actual answers. My guess is that he’ll take your question and then use an irrational argument (ie: Because God says so) and use the Bible is “proof” for anything he says. It’s easy to “answer” questions when the answers are whatever you want them to be.

  • theomni

    Define define. 

  • Zeggman

     Illusion of meaning? No. Real meaning, bounded by time and space.

    Yes, I will die one day. Yes, all the people I care about will die one day. Yes, humanity itself will die one day. I don’t have the illusion of eternity.

    What I do have is the ability to make a difference right now. What I do have is the knowledge that the choices I make in this moment can reverberate into the future, and either add to the misery in the world or add to the world’s treasures.

    It’s less than I might hope for, but it’s more than enough.

  • Zeggman

    If you are admitting that Christianity takes its marching orders from popular opinion, then we might as well prefer People magazine to the Bible for moral guidance.

    If you aren’t the question still deserves an answer: What’s God’s problem with homosexuality? Not a bunch of knuckle-dragging bigots; I can guess what their problem is. What is the objection from the CREATOR OF THE UNIVERSE?

  • Revyloution

    I asked:I come from a long line of skeptics.  I know the story of my great grandmother who told my mom while holding a bible ‘Only fools believe in this’.    My father told me that religion was a tool to enslave the weak minded,  he passed last year.  Both my deceased grandfathers held all religion in contempt.  The only Christian in my family was my grandmother, and she was firmly in the ‘liberal’ side of the faith.  My experience with Christianity is solely as an outsider.
    My question:
    If I were to accept Jesus and ask for salvation,  how could I ever find happiness in the afterlife knowing that most of my family was sent to hell for eternity?
    If they somehow have a chance to get into heaven despite their clear disbelief,  why should I bother with Christianity, since I will have that same chance of redemption?

  • Revyloution

    Because there are still millions of people who haven’t heard of Epicurus, Lucian, and have no idea where the Agora was.

    While this might seem like ‘been there, done that’ knowledge to you,  the vast swath of humanity hasn’t heard these arguments yet.  And of this vast swath, many are willing to kill and die for their beliefs.  The enlightenment has barely begun.  It still needs foot soldiers to ever have a chance of waking up our species. 

  • The Captain

    My favorite is how can you have a god defined as being all knowing, that includes the knowing of future events, and still believe that free will exists?

  • Jim_Lahey

    i was a born again and asked some simple questions, they led to more and more complicated questions. in the end there was no more questions  left. now I am a free thinking atheist, and so glad for the bible and church for helping me find the truth! without them I might still be wasting my time with the lunacy that is religion.


  • Jim_Lahey

    As societies have evolved past religion it has become accepted as the reality it is. Once agian evolution ( this time in a moral sense ) is proven as what drives productive society. Keep you head in your ass though! Im sure the view is suited to a bigoted piece of work like you!


  • Jim_Lahey

    how about extra biblical accounts that prop up the fairy tale? medically backed evidence of miracles. why the occurence of miracles has lessened to only those that have a perfectly scientific explanation without god. you know, things a grade schooler could figure out!


  • Jim_Lahey

    because the golden rule predates reigion, was part of ancient chinese philosophy in fact. as to the dogmas all being about the same it is simply a lie! of course you sound like one of the many good church folk who helped me figure out the truthabout the liars club! why do you tro here anyway? a test to see if thinkers will act with the level of vitriolic BS that we recieve from the likes of you? if you are looking for sheeple to agree with your bizarre slant on things, wait till sunday then chat with them after services!


  • Jim_Lahey

    correct. the scientific method doesnt shy away from I dont know. It also doesnt jump to conclusions that have exactly zero evidence. the answer may stil be undiscovered, but given what we know and the probabilities of what you suggest, the default position remains unchanged!


  • http://twitter.com/ErnestValdemar Ernest Valdemar

     Actually, Revylution, I agree with you, and I am glad there are people willing to take on these arguments.

    I am just not one of them, is what I’m saying. And anyone who claims to be a theologian, yet is unaware of these arguments and unwilling to take them on, is, IMHO, an unworthy adversary.

    I’d just like to see one pro-Jesus argument put forward that can’t be refuted by arguments that pre-date historical Jesus by centuries.

    I realize that not all (most?) Classicists are Atheists, but they seem like natural allies.

  • K Hollowell

    I was a “christian” until I started to really study the bible. After a year of proper bible study not only do I consider myself an athiest but I’m now more antithiest

  • http://winlb.wordpress.com/ ToonForever

     Yes – this we have to hear.

  • Jim_Lahey

    Heres one for you. is the bible the word of god? if it is, the studies you suggest are moot. there is no need to ‘interpret’ as he is infallable, and a simple reading of the book indicates how evil and bi-polar your god is. If it isnt his word, its just a shitty novel, poorly written, with an idiotic plot. might as well worship Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. His work was way better on all counts!


  • http://winlb.wordpress.com/ ToonForever

    That’s daft.  The Scientific Method doesn’t “explain” anything.  It is a method to find explanations for reality. 

    It has a knack of proving that religious explanations are full of crap.  Go figure.

  • clevertitania

    I repeat the original question – where is the evidence? There is no sound evidence of medically backed up miracles – miracle is unto itself a term used too liberally by the pious. If a woman recovers from cancer that is not a miracle. If a man survives what should have been a fatal car crash, by some dumb luck of what vital organs were missed, calling it a miracle doesn’t make it one. 

    And before you say that there’s proof that prayer heals, no there isn’t. There isn’t a single study showing that prayer works any better or worse than forms of positive visualization and other mental techniques which can have some (but far less than actual medical treatment) affect on certain debilitating illnesses. Not a single study has shown evidence that prayer specifically is of any help in curing any diseases. And way too many children have died, while Christian Scientists have prayed over their tumor-riddled bodies, to claim otherwise.

    There are no extra biblical accounts propping up any story in the bible – they did NOT find Noah’s Ark despite what you may have been told. There is no medical evidence of any miracle, ever, if you define a miracle as some kind of supernatural event that has no scientific explanation or sound scientific theory to explain it. Even ghost stories have sound scientific theories to explain them, if you delve into Quantum Mechanics. And is there is no evidence of any “miracles”, there is no increase or decrease in incidences of them. 
    Any grade schooler with dial-up access could find that FACT in less than 10 minutes on the internet.

  • OregoniAn

    Which “tough” questions did religion answer so honestly that you converted from being a smart, free thinking inquisitive person to becoming a trolling religio-fucktard? Just curious   =)

  • OregoniAn

     … and I am obviously taking a gamble on the whole “smart”sobriquet . . As your opening “I dunno” kind of puts you down there with the “smelly dudes I tried to avoid in high school who wore their coats all year round and hung out in the smoking section..”

  • OregoniAn

     …Thinking further on that, those guys were definitely all cooler than you – and a few of them even shared their “smokes” with me.. Must learn someday not to be so judgmental.

    Except to “Guest”..

    You’re a sad sorry piece of crap..

  • Baby_Raptor

    I don’t know anybody who actually thinks like that.

    Maybe you should try getting to know actual people instead of just hating strawmen so you can get your superiority fix?

  • Baby_Raptor

    Guess what? If we’re glorified animals, you are too. You’re just a delusional one. 

  • Baby_Raptor

    My grandparents whole-heartedly believed that I should have married the man who raped me. Continually quoted scripture at me and everything. They disowned me for “being out of God’s will” when I instead took Plan B and attempted to press charges.

    The result? The man who raped me is now a pastor of a decent sized church in Houston, and I haven’t spoken to my family in almost 9 years.

  • DougI

     And he probably thinks his slate is clean because god forgave him while he’ll judge you as a misguided sinner.  People like him make me sick.  Thank goodness I’m not around Houston or he might hurt my foot with his sanctimonious nutsack.

  • Gordon Duffy

    My Question: How could you be happy in Heaven if even a single person you love was in Hell?

  • Bender


    Why would anyone choose to believe that the scientific method as
    understood in the 21st century can explain all reality and if it can’t,
    then that reality must not exist?

    Because some of us care whether the explanation is true or not. You obviously don’t, so go ahead and stick  with religion.

  • Piet

     You’ll get the RW reply; that you are should be open to other kinds of proof (not to be used for other religions).

  • Piet

     That is sick, goddamnit!
    I have no words at the moment..

  • Piet

     I am afraid he is being serious. Sad isn’t it?

  • Piet

    Maybe he can answer John W Loftus Outsider Test of Faith?

  • Sindigo

    How’s Thor-worshipping going for you?

  • Keith Collyer

     no, don’t do that, it will be a waste of time and prevent him from even seeing questions that really are tough. It is clear that he is coming from a position of “I am right and will do anything I can to prove it”, but mailbombing will just give evidence that atheists are jerks

  • Keith Collyer

    ok, let’s play feed the troll:
    >>You’re nothing but a glorified animal
    >> clinging to the illusion of
    meaning long enough to pass on your DNA before you die and rot in the
    I don’t even know what this means, what “illusion of meaning” am I clinging to? The most prevalent illusion of meaning is religion, and I don’t cling to that
    >>Why not ditch the illusion, other than it makes you feel warm
    and fuzzy to think there is any reason to care?
    You seem to be talking about religion again

  • Keith Collyer

    all your possible outcomes still assume eternal life after death

  • SwedishLore15

    I agree wholeheartedly.  In the end, it should come down to the hard evidence, not specific questions and answers about certain beliefs.  No matter how eloquently a theist can provide an answer, to say, the Problem of Evil, I don’t think that satisfactorily addresses the lack of evidence for the entire God question.  It does not relieve theists of the burden to prove their extraordinary claim.

  • Sindigo

    Agreed. So?

  • Sindigo

    Well, some are more glorified than others. Some find meaning simply hanging around message boards and trolling. How sad.

  • NickDB
  • David McNerney

    Agree completely – another problem (which is common) is that we have to know intricately this guys personal version of his chosen sect of Christianity and there will be a ton of get out clauses.

    When we boil it down – the reason he believes will be (a) a lack of understanding of the weakness of the philosophical arguments for theism combined with poor understanding of scientific explanations for the universe and (b) a personal experience (delusion) which he cannot see the obvious alternatives for.

  • MariaO

    The “Golden rule” is not a very good rule. It assumes all humans want exactly the same thing. In my experience they don’t, far from. A much better rule would be:

    “Treat everybody as they want to be treated.”

    Havn’t seen any reigion come up with that one yet…

  • MariaO

    An example: rape.

    Man want’s sex. The golden rule says the the girl wants sex too (treat her as I would like to be treated…). So raping her is fine.

    According to my rule if the girl does not want sex, the man cannot rape her.

    Which is better?

  • http://boldquestions.wordpress.com/ Ubi Dubium

    “…It’s a place for you to submit the biggest hurdle you have to fully giving yourself over to the Christian faith.”
    Fully giving yourself over?  See, there’s my first problem with this whole thing.  I think “fully giving yourself over” to anything, especially a religion, is dangerous and to be avoided. 

  • Earl G.

    That’s terrible.  I’m so sorry.
    If you’re up for it, a blog post (somewhere) about how your family dealt with this could probably be very helpful for others who faced that kind of reaction.  It could also be helpful for people who don’t  understand just how vicious Christian beliefs can be.

  • MariaO

    You surely do not agree with all the moral commandments of the bible (stoning adulters, prostituting your daughtes, killing your children when disobidient, hating your parents, eating shrimp…)

    How do you select which of all the thousands of commandments of the bible you find relevant and obey? You must make these decisions from sources outside of the bible. What are those sources and why do you obey them more than your holy book? And, if you have siomething you obey more than the bible, why is the bible relevant at all?

  • Earl G.

    I don’t think The Great Ape’s goal was to mailbomb.  I think the goal was to remind Tony that the question his religion must answer, first and foremost, is Where’s the frigging evidence?  After that, it’s all just window dressing.

    However, I agree with you that a variety of tough questions will make him sweat more.

  • Coyotenose

     Creating one’s own meaning is far more valuable than deciding to believe that you’re nothing but dirt that an all-powerful being has generously decided to not torture, and instead to merely keep around as a dumb pet for eternity.

  • Nick

    A Christian Theologian has answers to the hard questions? Time to bust out the fallacy Bingo cards!

  • Coyotenose

     Sigh. You’re arguing against an atheist.

  • Coyotenose

     “extra-Biblical”; unlike most typos, that one causes confusion.

  • Coyotenose

    Religionists kind of gloss over the fact that in order for people to be eternally happy in Heaven, they have to be made unaware of or indifferent towards Hell. That means God is either changing their memories and outright lying to them, or else brainwashing them until they are no longer even human beings.

  • Coyotenose

     I can’t remember whose video it was – maybe DarkMatter – where he points out that if God gives everyone free will, then evil people who harm good people are taking away their free will, which means God in his fake neutrality always sides with rapists and murderers over, you know, NON-rapists and murderers.

  • Coyotenose

    I take it you’re too dimwitted to have found “The Courtier’s Reply” despite considering yourself knowledgeable on the subject.

    Just because you choose to remain ignorant doesn’t mean the world hasn’t already moved well beyond you.

  • ReadsInTrees

    What do you mean “glorified animal”? We’re just REGULAR animals.

  • ReadsInTrees

    All animals are glorified, some are just more glorified than others. Four legs good, two legs better.

  • ReadsInTrees

    Eve is a personal (fictional) hero of mine. The world’s first feminist!

  • ReadsInTrees

    I work for a police department, and whenever we have women come in who want to press charges for domestic violence or for sexual assault, I always look them straight in the eye and say, “Good for you!” So many women (and men) DON’T want to press charges against their assaulter that I almost feel like we need a round of applause for people like you who decide to stand up for themselves!

  • ReadsInTrees

    I actually study a study recently that seemed to find that prayer may actually cause patients to do worse. It’s neutral if the patient doesn’t know they’re being prayed for, but it seems that when a patient KNOWS that people are praying for them, they fare worse. Hold on…lemme find it….

  • Gunstargreen

    Incoming BS apologist arguments we’ve all heard and debunked before in 3… 2… 1…

  • ReadsInTrees

    Except rape isn’t usually about sex, it’s usually about power.  It’s unlikely that a rapist wants to be raped himself. The golden rule applies here: do not force others to have sex against their will if you would not want to be forced to have sex against your will.

  • Foster

    An animal that is capable (in principle) of composing a Mozart Requiem is no regular animal in my book.

  • cathouseumbrella

    I asked him why Christianity is the right religion. Even if we assume for the sake of argument that “there has to be something out there” I’ve never understood how religious people rationalize picking one religion over all the others.

  • ReadsInTrees

    That’s my biggest problem with heaven…the brainwashing. Heaven is supposed to be a wonderful place without pain, but obviously it would take some made brainwashing (or drugs) to make everyone forget about the suffering of others still on Earth or their loved ones in hell. 
    I also always wondered…when you go to heaven, what age are you in heaven? If you die as an old person, are you eternally an old person? Or do you automatically revert to the age when you were happiest in life? What if there’s a married, true-love couple where the husband dies young, the woman lives to be very old, and then she dies…. Does she revert back to being the age she was when he died so that they can be the same age together? What about when a baby dies? Does it have to stay a baby forever? Does everyone just get fast forwarded or reversed to being in their youthful prime? If so, what about sex? If you’ve got a heaven full of hot, young twenty-somethings in the prime of their youth, they’re going to want to have sex. It seems like heaven would either have everyone with no desire for sex because they’re “above all that” OR everyone gets to have amazing sex all the time. The former seems bland and lacking in what makes us human, and the latter seems very unreligiousy (especially with the procreation-purposes-only thing). What about someone who dies a virgin? Do they get to finally have great sex in heaven? If so, who with? What if the virgin person is really unattractive in life and NO ONE wants to have sex with them….do they still get rejected in heaven, or do they automatically get made super hot in heaven? Being made super hot would mean that they’re not the same person that they were on earth, but being rejected means that heaven is not perfect for them….maybe there are like angel sex robots up there for the loners. What if there is a dude who’s like a stalker to this girl on Earth who is NOT interested and seriously creeped out by him, and then they both go to heaven….HIS perfect heaven would include being with her, but she obviously doesn’t want to spend eternity with him? (Judging from the Bible, my guess is that Heaven is mens’ choice.) Are people who die as infants happier in heaven because they never had time to form relationships with people on Earth who may now be suffering, or are they LESS happy in heaven because they never got a chance to experience real life? What about food? Does ice cream make you fat in heaven? If it doesn’t, what’s stopping all of the heaven people from having a crazy food orgy all the time? If they’re “above” Earthy desires like bacon….what’s the point?

  • Jim_Lahey

    thanks! my bad. a troll like guest knows exactly what I meant though!

  • ReadsInTrees

    Yeah, but a peregrine falcon can reach speeds of 200 mph. THAT is no regular animal in my book. Pistol shrimp can create a shock wave with a click of their claw that incapacitates their prey. THAT is no regular animal in my book. Some moths can smell their mates 6-7 miles away. THAT is no regular animal in my book. Kestrels can hunt rodents by their urine trails because they can see UV light. THAT is no ordinary animal in my book. Sea cucumbers contain a kind of internal exoskeleton that they can turn on and off so that sometimes they’re soft and mushy, other times they have armor. Some can even turn themselves inside out to use their gastric juice as a venom. THAT is no ordinary animal in my book. A duck billed platypus feed their young with milk, but lay eggs, the males have venomous spurs, and they hunt for prey with electroreception using their bill. THAT is no ordinary animal in my book. Mimic octupuses have an extraordinary ability to camouflage themselves or mimic other animals, changing their bodies in mere seconds. THAT is no ordinary animal in my book.

    My point is that to refer to humans as “glorified animals” is just plain arrogant. We are regular animals with a slight talent for using our brains creatively….but were are no means more glorious than other animals. In fact, the ONLY thing that we’re better than other animals at is using our enlarged brain. We have weak bodies, we’re pitifully slow, our eyesight is pathetic and our sense of smell even worse, we can’t keep very warm on our own, our claws and teeth are pretty useless for defense, we can’t create anything amazing with our bodies like a web or poison, we can’t hibernate, we can barely swim, we have a poor sense of direction, most our our natural instincts have been squashed to near extinction, our bodies are relatively bad at giving birth to and nursing our young, and (dammit) we can’t even fly! Even though we’re supposed to have the best brains, even THAT isn’t very foolproof. Think how often our brains fail us: we forget things all the time, we confuse things, we’re easily deceived  and worst of all….we can’t handle the complexity of the universe, so most of us prescribe to make believe ideas called religions so that we can handle our own existence.

    Sorry, but we’re just not that special.

  • Foster

    Gregory Lynn, Your questions (as I understand them) 

    1. How
    could Adam and Eve do wrong in seeking out (even forbidden) knowledge, or is it
    possible that curiosity can be a bad thing? 

    2. Why should I, via Original Sin, be forced to
    burn in hell? 3. How can a person seek forgiveness from God and
    get it if he should be seeking forgiveness from me? 

    Answers (so far as I understand the original questions): 
    1. They took what was not theirs to take.  Just as it is wrong to steal an
    expensive watch you find on the ground without trying to find the owner, it was
    wrong for them to steal fruit from a tree that didn’t belong to them.  In general, curiosity can be a bad
    thing, because it can put you in situations where your will to do the right
    thing will not be strong enough. A
    good example is drug addiction. Knowledge of what it’s like to try that drug is a bad thing to seek,
    because you may not be able to stop once you know what it’s like.  So we can agree that there are kinds of
    knowledge that are bad to seek.  The
    forbidden apple represents them and is an allegory intended to represent
    forbidden knowledge in general. 

    2. You are not forced to burn in hell according to the doctrine of original
    sin.  Original sin states that we
    as men are prone to do the wrong thing. 
    Adam is the type (or general idea) of man, and his passing on this
    tendency to us means we all have it. 
    The fact that we are tempted to do things that we know are “evil” is
    simply a fact of life, and this doctrine is only dealing with the fact.  Another doctrine, that of free will,
    states just the opposite: you choose your eternal destiny. 

    3. The Christian scriptures (and common sense) suggest that if he is truly repentant,
    he should seek your forgiveness as well. 
    Matthew 5:23-24 says, “So if you are offering your gift at the altar and
    there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift
    there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then
    come and offer your gift.”  

  • Jim_Lahey

    I think my typo caused some confusion. I am in complete agreement with you! There is no evidence

  • Bender

     1. They took what was not theirs to take. Nice try, but you can’t make sense of the tale. It’s too stupid. First, god didn’t tell them “It’s my property, don’t touch it”. He said “don’t eat it, or you’ll die”, which was a lie. Besides, even if he had given them a direct order, they couldn’t know they were doing anything wrong before eating the damm fruit.

    Original sin states that we as men are prone to do the wrong thing. Again, nice try. But a) we are not, and b) even if we were, being prone is not actuallyh doing the thing, so why should it punishable?

  • Bender


    1. They
    took what was not theirs to take.

    Nice try, but you can’t make sense of
    the tale. It’s too stupid. First, god didn’t tell them “It’s my
    property, don’t touch it”. He said “don’t eat it, or you’ll die”, which
    was a lie. Besides, even if he had given them a direct order, they
    couldn’t know they were doing anything wrong before eating the damm

    Original sin states that we as men are prone to do
    the wrong thing.

    Again, nice try. But a) we are not,
    and b) even if we were, being prone is not actuallyh doing the thing, so
    why should it punishable?


  • MariaO

    Not Eve! Lilith is the first feminist – she refused to be a “rib”.

  • ReadsInTrees

    Oh right, I always forget about Lilith.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_6OE7LEYELE4MZTVXGZUSVTBFUI julie

    Someone complains about homophobia in the Bible and your response is that other cultures were homophobic too, so it’s okay.
    I know someone who is racist. But that’s okay because it’s not like he’s the first person in the world to be racist.

    Is that question just too tough for a book that claims to be the moral authority over everyone?

  • B_R_Deadite99

    Here’s one; if hell–i.e., eternal damnation–is real, then how do you account for your god’s morality? Essentially, Christianity says this;

    A. God created the whole world, universe, and everything in it, including humans, his crowning achievement.
    B. God created humans for his glory.
    C. God lied to the first two humans*, and then punished them for acquiring knowledge.
    D. God then decided that the every single human being who would ever be born would be represented by Adam and Eve, and cursed them to suffer pain, death, and hell if they didn’t worship.
    E. God requires that in order to be saved, you must admit responsibility for your sins–which he created you with, thereby stripping you of any choice or responsibility in the matter.

    Therefore, your god is nothing more than the ultimate Narcissist, a depraved fascist of incredible selfishness.

    *”For in the day that thou eat of that fruit, thou shalt surely die.” But they didn’t die; they merely became mortal. So the perfect Creator lied. That is, if the story were true and not merely a primitive creation myth.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_6OE7LEYELE4MZTVXGZUSVTBFUI julie

    How could they possibly know it was wrong to disobey God when they didn’t have knowledge of good and evil?
    Why would God test the morals of a person who knows nothing about morality and have the punishment be original sin and millions of your descendants going to hell for being born into the wrong religion?

  • B_R_Deadite99

     Because none of it has anything to do with the truth. All religious people believe in what they believe either because they feel like it or were brought up in it, not because they were convinced by logical proofs. That’s why there’s many religions and many diverse religious sects and split-offs instead of one, centralized belief.

  • Foster

    1. I think the story presumes that they knew that (in the story) everything is God’s property, since He made it, and they hung out with Him in the garden before the fruit business and he probably told them about it.  And you’re right, He didn’t say “don’t touch it,” contrary to what the snake told them He said.  He said “Don’t eat it or on that day you’ll die.”  I’d say that’s a pretty direct order.  And, he didn’t lie.  They did die.  Adam is not walking around today.  As for him telling them they’d die *on that day,* and then putting it off, it may be that an important spiritual part of them died that day, or simply that he changed His mind and decided to let them live a slightly longer but mortal life.  I’m Catholic, so I don’t have a problem with non-literal days in this story, either this part or the Creation part, and I understand there’s some ambiguity in the Hebrew word for “day” anyway.  They knew they were disobeying God who made them and gave them everything they had (in the story), and stealing what was not rightfully theirs.  I keep saying “in the story” because I know you don’t believe these things to be true, but the story *is* consistent and I don’t think you can justly fault the character God in it, who gives man a good life, tells them they’ll die if they do X, they do X, and God lets them live, makes them clothes which they now need, and promises to save them through the offspring of the woman.

    2. a)  Is stealing when you have enough to live wrong?  Have you never *desired* you could take something that was not yours? Maybe not, but I don’t think you’re (as they say in statistics) representative of the general sample, if you don’t sometimes want to do what you know to be wrong, whether it’s stealing or anything else wrong.
    b) As I explained, it’s not.  Most Christians and Catholic Christians in particular (since I am one) believe in free will, that is, that ordinary people in our experience choose their actions responsibly (or irresponsibly) and where they want to spend eternity.  Do I think there will be non-Christians in heaven?  Of course I do.  But I also think that people like Hitler and Stalin seemed to be are going to get theirs–a philosophical benefit that atheism does not have. 

  • B_R_Deadite99

     Here’s my question; if God is perfect and cannot tolerate any kind of sin or imperfection, why did he allow A&E to go about naked? As soon as they ate the fruit, they realized that they were naked, and nakedness was inherently wrong. So, why did God let them do it in the first place? Or did he enjoy the view too much to say anything?

  • Foster

    The Attic Greeks, you’re right.  The Romans, not so much.  While they assimilated a great deal of the Greek culture, a love of homosexuality and paedophilia was not one of the elements they took to, although the Romans did regularly expose their infant babies to the elements if they didn’t want them (in case you’d like to justify abortion historically).

  • http://www.facebook.com/ferguson.danny Danny Ferguson

    Here’s my question:

    If God exists, why is he such a poor communicator? An omnipotent god would have the power to communicate clearly and directly with people so they wouldn’t have to guess about which religion is correct. Instead we get cryptic messages sent to individuals, books in the Bible that don’t even claim to be inspired, and a whole lot of silence in more recent times.

  • Foster

    My, it seems I struck a nerve.  (Impressive display of Biology knowledge by the way.  I enjoyed reading that.)  But how many of those animals can really appreciate the powers of the other ones?  Your litany of fantastic facts about the world only serves to convince me of how special you *are* in the animal kingdom, my dear fellow *Homo sapiens sapiens*.  No irony intended.

  • Earl G.


    It reminds me so much of arguing against the American exceptionalism b.s. that the Right is so fond of.  They think the U.S. is magically more special than every other country.  They ‘coincidentally’ value the traits the U.S. happens to excel at and devalue the traits where other countries kick our tail.  

    Religious nuts take this to whole new level, pretending that they were somehow *divinely* endowed with their specialness over other people, over other nations, and over the rest of nature.  The whole thing is an arrogant power trip. 

  • ReadsInTrees

    *sigh* My point was that we’re no more special than other animals. We’ve just decided that our particular talent is more special than other amazing things that other animals are capable of.

  • Foster

    Julie, just because they had not eaten from the tree does not mean they had no moral sense, or else you’d be right.  But I think most readers understand the knowledge involved to be knowledge of *experience* rather than knowledge of its existence.  For example, I know that there’s such a thing as wind surfing, I know it exists.  But I’ve never experienced it.  Adam and Eve gained a unique experiential knowledge when they ate of what evil felt like, and perhaps a corresponding increase of appreciation for what it is to be good in the face of the desire for and knowledge of evil.

    Many Christians take the story to be an allegory of the human condition.  That is, every human being chooses as Adam and Eve chose between what they know to be good and evil.  The desire to choose the evil choice is original sin.  The story is not intended to suggest that those who unknowingly reject Christianity are going to hell any more than Genesis 1 and 2 are intended to disprove the theory of evolution by natural selection.  They are allegories to help us appreciate the human condition.

  • Foster

    As specialness is not a quantifiable thing, I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree on whether to attribute that quality more to man than to the other creatures.

  • http://twitter.com/the_ewan Ewan

    No, you really don’t need that conditional in there.

  • The Other Weirdo

     Especially a God who admits in the Old Testament(and is quite proud of the fact) that He creates everyone: the lame, the blind, the perfect, the ugly, the beautiful, the stillborn. That list has to include the gays. So, if He creates them, why does He then proscribe them? If they’re gay, they’re gay because He made them that way. Then He punishes them for it. Doesn’t exact paint a good picture of the omnibenevolent, all-loving God.

  • The Other Weirdo

     Didn’t a senior Catholic recently try justifying the Church’s old position on slavery by basically saying that it(slavery) was the accepted practice in past societies, and you can’t expect the Church to know better or more than the cultures that surround it.

  • TheNaturalist

    Arguing about specifics in the bible or tenets of the faith are a waste of time. Lets just get to the crux of the mater: Is Christianity just a well designed and evolved meme? My question:

    Memes are cultural and psychological ideas that propagate
    through societies based on a combination of their individual appeal, societal
    pressure and propensity to spread to others. 
    Examples of modern day memes are viral videos and chain emails.  In a naturalistic world view, Christianity
    and other religions satisfy all the characteristics of memes: a) the ideas
    provide psychological incentives to believe:  having the creator of the universe on your
    side, comfort in the face of mortality, rewards in an afterlife, and fear of
    punishment for not believing; b) societal pressure: in conforming to the norm, proving
    connections with community, and shunning of non-believers; c) incentives to
    spread: by continuous reinforcement through regular attendance and repletion of
    beliefs, urge to “save” others especially loved ones, having more children, and
    indoctrination of children into your faith.

    So my question is “Can you demonstrate that
    Christianity is not a meme?”  

  • dangeroustalk

    Here are my 5 questions. So far, I haven’t gotten any good answers:
    Five questions for Christians – http://exm.nr/QmWTdx

  • http://www.facebook.com/abb3w Arthur Byrne

    If you’re interested in the math, see (doi:10.1109/18.825807).

  • http://www.facebook.com/abb3w Arthur Byrne

    If you’re going to be fussy, the scientific method is more a means of competitively testing found explanations. Science really doesn’t care whether the explanation is found (or inspired) by drinking excessive amounts of coffee, watching apples fall by moonlight, dreaming of cannibal snakes, dosing up on LSD, or getting answers inscribed on golden tablets delivered by seraphim choice. (Though the last might customarily require co-authorship attribution at publication.)

    What matters is how well the evidence is described by the explanation you find.

  • cathouseumbrella

    I know that and you know that, but my question is how believers rationalize it.

  • matt

     Why would god tempt Adam and Eve?

    Why would god murder babies, condone slavery, etc.  as stated in the bible?  —> How could god really expect any reasonable person to think this book is divine?

    Why would the creator of the universe need to birth himself into mankind only to sacrifice himself to HIMSELF to erase some sort of  original sin?  —>Why would he choose the inefficient and suspicious method of  raping Mary and waiting 9 months?  Wouldn’t it have been more convincing to poof Jesus into existence in front of a crowd of people? 

    Why is there a new and an old testament?  Did god forget to tell Moses something?

    What about all of the myths that the bible borrowed from previous religions?

    I guess we just have to have faith, eh?

  • B_R_Deadite99

    “The Bible says it, I believe it, that settles it”.

    They don’t rationalize it in a rational way. They’re brainwashed. Can any Scientologist or Mormon give a logical account for why they’re where they are now?

  • Gus Snarp

    I’m sure he’ll have some trite apologetics or convoluted logic to refute everything. This is just providing him with ammunition. It’s for people to memorize his answers to use against their atheist and agnostic friends, and also as he says:

     It’s a place for you to submit the biggest hurdle you have to fully giving yourself over to the Christian faith.

    Truth be told, I have no questions for him. I don’t have questions about Christianity, I don’t have a hurdle preventing me from giving myself over to the Christian faith. I just have no interest in giving myself over to any faith. No philosophical or theological argument will convince me that there is evidence of a god.

  • Vision_From_Afar

     Fine, thanks. Why is that so bad? Thor doesn’t care about converts unlike Jewish zombies.

  • http://winlb.wordpress.com/ ToonForever

     No doubt – I don’t think we disagree.  Just busting the troll’s chops.

  • Antinomian

    Fear not, for the Lord shall forgive his nutsack’s transgressions against your foot…

  • http://annainca.blogspot.com/ Anna

    You know, I can’t think of a single question I would ever ask a Christian theologian. They seem to think that studying their religion has made them qualified to give answers, but I can’t figure out what on earth makes them different from shamans or witch doctors. Theologians don’t have special knowledge. They’re just regular human beings, studying a religion made up by human beings, worshipping a god made up by human beings. How does a theologian differ from a village medicine man?

  • edgar ayala

    Eight legs best.

  • Agnostic

    I hope the kind of language you use is not representative of the typical atheist. It is people like you who give atheism a bad image.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_6OE7LEYELE4MZTVXGZUSVTBFUI julie

    I was assuming you took the Bible literally like most people I argue with, sorry.
    I never really know how to argue with beliefs like yours and I don’t always see the point in arguing. After I stopped believing the Bible was literal truth, for a little while I believed it was a good moral guide and meant to be taken more symbolically. But then it just seemed so pointless. There are lots of other good, moral books out there, so what’s so special about this one? And why do we have to find other explanations for everything to make sense? If it’s an omnipotent god, why couldn’t it communicate it’s message clearly? And if it chose not to, and people are punished for not believing, what a cruel god.

    “The story is not intended to suggest that those who unknowingly reject Christianity are going to hell” …but what about those who knowingly reject it? Do they deserve hell for not understanding God’s confusing, contradicting book?

  • Agnostic

    The fact that you call yourself a free thinking atheist shows that you still believe there is no god. Looks like the church has not succeeded with either you nor I. Ultimately, gut feeling will probably be the deciding factor.

  • Agnostic

    Vicious. Hope you are not representative of the atheist population.

  • Agnostic

    To be believed, she will have to name the person involved.

  • Jim_Lahey

    The church did succeed! The twisted doctrines and nonsense in the ‘good book’ led me to think! Now I am truly free! They probably wish I was still in their clutches, but never again. And I am raising two boys to think for themselves. When they ask questions about religion I say things like’ well the bible says…’ then they ask me what I think and I explain why I can’t believe the bible or doctrine based on it! It really is evolution at its finest


  • phantomreader42

     “Guest” has never in its life made the slightest effort to answer any question honestly, not even for a single second.

  • phantomreader42

     So, should we judge all agnostics by you, and conclude that they’re all cowardly, whining, stupid tone-trolls who are physically incapable of addressing any issue honestly? 

  • phantomreader42

     Do you actually think he’d be capable of formulating a satisfactory response to  “why should I believe without there being any evidence whatsoever”?  Or, in fact, of even comprehending that question?  Because if he can’t answer that, then all his theology is of no more value than speculating about the color of smurf shit. 

  • phantomreader42

     You can’t get from “we don’t know absolutely everything about everything (and I won’t admit that we know what we actually do know)” to “therefore there must exist something fundamentally beyond human understanding”

    You can’t get from “there must exist something fundamentally beyond human understanding” to “therefore it must be an invisible man with magical superpowers“. 

    You can’t get from “it must be an invisible man with magical superpowers” to “therefore it must be my specific version of the invisible man with magical superpowers and no other“. 

    And you can’t get from THAT to “therefore everyone must be forced to worship me and indoctrinate their children into my cult at taxpayer expense“. 

    None of the premises follow from each other.  And yet, religious apologists and theologians constantly lie about things relating to the first premise, and use those lies as an excuse to jump straight to the last. 

  • phantomreader42

    Yeah, there we have it, “Agnostic” is not only a whiny, stupid, lying, cowardly tone-troll, it’s also a rape apologist and probably a rapist to boot. 

  • phantomreader42

     Nope, no chance at all.  You’d have a better chance asking a rock to sing soprano. 

  • phantomreader42
  • phantomreader42

     How could you be happy in Heaven if even a single person you love was in Hell?

    How could anyone with a conscience enjoy their paradise if they knew it was fueled by the blood and screams of countless victims of unending torture?  Unless of course one posits that all christians are sociopaths.  However, I know isn’t quite true, though I suspect anyone who truly believes in hell and has thought about the implications of that belief would have to be. 

  • phantomreader42

     There have been those who openly declared that those in heaven would watch the torment of the damned as some sort of sick entertainment.  Which goes back to what I said about sociopaths…

  • thorny264

    Pay no attention to him, him, sceptic and blacksheep are all the same trolling (failing) theist

  • kaydenpat

    Good question, Edmond.

    I wonder about that too.  If God created everybody, that would include gays.  Why would God create gays only to condemn them?  I would love to see the Pastor’s response to your query.

  • kaydenpat

    Why are you conflating homosexuality with paedophilia?

  • kaydenpat

    I would be interested in asking the Pastor if he believes Christians are better than non-Christians.  If he doesn’t believe that Christians are better than non-Christians, why is he a Christian?  Tradition?  Because it’s the most popular religion in the US?  I have a problem with the way non-Christians are demonized by the Christian Right.  You’d almost believe that non-Christians were out there eating babies and stomping puppies to death like amoral monsters. 

  • Islander.

    Brilliantly expressed. Thank you. Doubt if this could be bettered.

  • Foster

    Julie, in your comment, I detected three good questions I’d
    like to give the answers to that guide my own belief in Catholic Christianity.
    Why believe the Bible if it’s not literally
    true, is contradictory, and is just a moral guide?

    Why can’t God be more clear, if he supposedly
    wants everyone to be saved?

    Do people who knowingly reject Christianity go
    to hell?



    I believe that the Bible is without error and
    true in this sense:  when it comes
    to telling us about who God is and how people should live morally, the Bible,
    as the Church interprets it, is spot-on correct.  The “as the Church interprets it” is the most important
    clause there, since it separates me from Protestant Christians, who (apparently)
    assume that the Bible was written so clearly that there can be no rational misunderstanding
    about significant issues.  Hence
    the numerousness of Protestant sects. 
    Catholics have no such illusions, which is why we believe in the
    infallibility of the Church (led by the Pope) to teach what the scriptures
    mean, for the benefit of Christians in every age, and that this is a miracle in

    No matter how clear a document is, it can be
    misunderstood by people with imperfect understanding, which is part of what it
    is to be human.  So to do what
    you’re asking, God would either need to come down personally and tell us what
    he wants (which Christians think he did), or make humans radically differently,
    that is not to make *humans *–who grow and struggle–at all. If he sent
    angels down with super powers telling us what God wanted, people would probably
    mistrust that they were actually from God and hypothesize that they were aliens
    using technology to fool us.  If
    God was constantly in our heads, telling us telepathically, in our own
    languages, in an undeniable and understandable manner, what we must do, depending
    on what “undeniable” means, we would either lack free will, or we’d have
    consciences, which most people do. The struggle to seek the good and improve
    ourselves in spite of our imperfection through free choice is itself a good
    thing, which would be impossible in a world of perfect understanding and
    knowledge, and may explain why God would make a world like ours.  What exactly would you like God to do
    to make what he wants clearer? 
    Because in order to be clearer, to really convince more people more
    effectively, he might have to in the process destroy many beautiful and
    valuable aspects of the world we enjoy.

    Since it was not central to the point I was
    making, I did not elaborate on what I meant by “knowingly” above, but I will
    since you bring up the point.  The
    Catholic Church teaches that God is completely just and loving, therefore no
    one who legitimately sought the truth and lived as best as they knew how to, is
    going to hell.  This is why the
    Church allows the notion that people like Plato could be in heaven, because it
    would appear he followed his conscience, although it did not lead him to
    Christianity.  But those who know
    that the Church is right about what it teaches, and then die rejecting it for
    no honest, conscientious reason, will go to hell.  But that, I presume, is not the sense of “knowingly” that
    you meant above.  So to answer your
    question, if the revelation God provided was really insufficient for their
    intellects and consciences, then no, they will not go to hell.

  • Nobody

    What scienctific research has led you to believe that there are only five senses? That’s just a cultural meme. There are many more than five senses. Look it up.

  • Nobody

    Sorry, I also meant to say that much research we do relies on evidence that doesn’t stimulate any of the human senses, because we just aren’t sensitive enough. We rely on feedback from computers with sensors that detect things humans cannot sense. Obviously, we are careful to calibrate these, and we rely on different people working the same or similar computers to verify our results, but it isn’t actually evidence we can sense with our own senses (of which there are more than five).

    Even stuff that doesn’t require artificial sensors, often involves evidence that is more in the nature of “when I crunch the numbers for this whole population, I find that this thing is correlated with that thing”, which is also something you cannot sense with any of your many senses. Outside the realm of Sherlock Holmes, “evidence” is rarely a tangible thing you can look at or listen too.

    It kind of sounds like when Creationists won’t accept as evidence anything less than direct observation, or complain that astronomy doesn’t involve running experiments. Knowledge is bigger than this.

  • Foster


    No, we do not need to have faith in the way that you mean
    the word, that is belief contrary to reason and observable fact.  The way that many Christians interpret
    Faith (although many Protestant Christians do appear to support the
    anti-rational Faith you describe, which I do not condone) is a recognition that
    as humans, we are prone to backsliding on things we know to be true, or are
    probably true, simply because believing them is inconvenient.  Thus, having faith is the same thing as
    faithfulness to the truth, or what seems most likely, even when it’s
    inconvenient, and Faith with a capital F is applied specifically to religious
    truth, since much of what Christianity affirms is unseen, and while reasonable,
    can be very inconvenient if you want to follow a life of pleasure and ease.  I wouldn’t support Christianity if I
    didn’t think it a worldview that was as sound and better than materialism or
    Islam, or any other worldview I know of. 
    So, answers to your other nine questions in order:


    Why would god tempt Adam and Eve?

    As I recall, it’s the snake who does that in the story, not
    God, and God punishes him for doing so. 
    But you might mean why would God place them in a position where they
    could be tempted.  In order to be a
    moral being, one must be allowed to make moral choices between good and evil.  Any attractive aspects of the evil
    option would be temptations.  We
    believe that free will is a good thing that God provided mankind, and that man
    misused this gift to do evil.


    Why would god murder babies, condone
    slavery, etc.  as stated in the bible? The Catholic Church does not
    condone murdering babies (or anyone for that matter), or slavery, and neither
    does God. 


    How could god really expect any
    reasonable person to think this book is divine? He could give us an
    organization that He would protect from making mistakes or contradicting itself
    when it interpreted the divine book and when it taught about human Faith and
    morals.  Many members of this
    organization from many different walks of life could be notable for their good
    works and exemplary lives, and there might be various signs and miracles
    performed from time to time, indicating to observers His divine favor on that
    organization, its members, and their interpretations of the book in question.


    Why would the creator of the
    universe need to birth himself into mankind only to sacrifice himself to
    HIMSELF to erase some sort of original sin?  The Creator of the universe, being (hypothetically speaking,
    of course) omnipotent, would not *need* to do anything.  Christianity teaches that out of
    generosity and love for mankind, He became one of us, suffering everything we
    suffer and living a life like ours and dying a death like ours to help us to
    overcome our temptations and cleanse us from our guilt.


    Why would he choose the inefficient
    and suspicious method of raping Mary and waiting 9 months?  He didn’t
    rape Mary, since a rape requires sex, which did not occur. Additionally, Mary
    consented to being the mother of God, when asked to do so, so in no sense was there
    a rape or anything like a rape involved.


    Wouldn’t it have been more
    convincing to poof Jesus into existence in front of a crowd of people? 
    Probably not.  Seeing as we teach
    that He raised people from the dead and they didn’t believe, poofing would probably
    not have been any more convincing. 
    Besides, living a life like ours, which we believe was part of His
    purpose in coming, involves being an infant and growing up.


    Why is there a new and an old
    testament?  Did god forget to tell Moses something?  The New Testament is about Jesus and
    His disciples, while Christians believe the Old Testament illustrates the human
    condition, mankind’s need for God and God’s intervention in human affairs
    before Christ and in ways that prefigure Christ.  We believe God told Moses exactly what He wanted him to
    know, and that Jesus entered the world when the time was right.


    What about all of the myths that
    the bible borrowed from previous religions?  The fact that several religions/mythologies point to a
    massive flood occurring, for example, might point to the possibility that there
    really was a massive flood.  We
    believe shared aspects with other religions point to common recognition of
    important truths about man, where he’s been and where he’s going.

  • Foster

    I more fully and accurately describe the sexual habits of the Greeks and Romans in order to suggest that Roman or Greek acceptance of something does not necessarily suggest that their behavior should be emulated by us.

  • Mr. X

    Cool. So, what evidence do you have for the proposition, “Only that which can be sensed with one or more of the five senses counts as evidence”?

  • Vision_From_Afar

    Actually, I’m a pagan who checks out the Atheists because I support their fantastic and coordinated efforts to keep the Christians in line. I represent diddly for the atheist population.

  • Mr. X

    What about an alcoholic who wants to be given more alcohol?

  • Sindigo

    Nothing wrong with it at all. It makes as much sense as any other religion to me. Jewish Zombies included.

  • nakedanthropologist

    You know, when you say it that way Christianity kinda reminds me of the Necromongers from the Chronicles of Riddick. Their religion centers around conversion (forcible when possible), death, life after death, coupled with the exchange of suffering and atonement. Tropes and imagery includes violence, war, and the spiritual “other”. All that, combined with the belief that they are absolutely right and that they have dominion and a type of manifest destiny. Interesting, no?

  • Vision_From_Afar

     Fascinating! I’d love to go further down that particular rabbit hole…

  • http://www.facebook.com/abb3w Arthur Byrne

    We probably don’t. I’m mostly just trying to give you higher caliber for your pedantic objections.

  • http://winlb.wordpress.com/ ToonForever

     LOL – I don’t think it pedantic at all.  My explanation wasn’t incorrect, it simply wasn’t as fine as yours.  You didn’t contradict, rather clarified.  Contrast that with the troll’s statement that the scientific method is an “explanation.”  That’s clearly false, and a point along the troll’s line of misunderstanding.

    My saying it’s a “method to find explanations” is not false.  It is that sort of tool.  That it finds explanations by evaluating explanations competitively is really putting a finer point on the fact that we use the method to find explanations.  Perhaps “best explanation” is a better way of putting it. 

    There, have I managed to one-up you again on pedantry?  Or are you still ahead?  :)