My Major Hangups With Christianity
In my study of Christianity, I've come across many things that don't seem to
make sense to me. Why, for example, would women go to anoint Jesus' body if he
was already covered with 100 pounds of spices and buried? If Jesus and all his
disciples were Jewish, why were the gospels written in Greek? Questions such as
these plague me, and yet I realize that I may never get satisfactory answers to
all of them.
But then, maybe I don't have to. If I could identify the most significant
questions that I have, perhaps the answers to those would make the others
insignificant. The following sections are for me the "biggies" that hinder my
acceptance of Christianity at the most basic level.
I have not seen evidence of a supernatural world
According to the Bible, evidence of God's power was once in abundance. Joshua
stopped the sun (Joshua 10:12), God utterly destroys Sodom and Gomorrah
(Genesis 19:24-28), and a donkey talked to his master (Numbers 22:21-30). And
yet, today one is told that God "doesn't always answer prayers", "works in
mysterious ways", or "works in subtle ways". These sound to me like excuses for
the unexplainable way that God does not seem to physically affect our lives.
Emily Dickinson said "They say God is everywhere, and yet we always think
of Him as somewhat of a recluse."
The Bible says that we should see some miracles. According to
James 5:14-15, if a person is sick the elders of the church should pray and
anoint him, and God will cure him. Jesus said that true believers of God should
be able to drink deadly poison without being hurt and to heal the sick by laying
hands upon them. And yet we don't see these things happening. Instead, there is
an abundance of "after the fact miracles", where a highly unlikely event happens
and someone labels it a miracle.
A central concept in Christianity is the concept of the soul. To Christians it
is obvious that we have souls, but I really doubt this. Most of the evidences
that people have given me (such as our domination of the earth) are actually a
result of our higher intelligence. Scientists have discovered that the brain
isn't as mysterious as once thought, and have been able to manipulate the way
that people act and the things that they sense through the use of drugs or
direct electrical stimulation.
Christianity contradicts science
The account of the flood is one of the few places that the Bible is specific
enough to analyze scientifically. Geologically, there is no evidence of the
flood. Historically, the Egyptians were writing on papyrus in 3000 b.c., and
the Greeks as far back as 1000 b.c., and they have no record of a flood. Where
did the water come from and go to? How did Noah and his family take care of all
the animals? How fast did the animals get on board the ark? Where was their
food stored? How did all the animals fit on the ark? This whole story can not
be explained without invoking multiple miracles that are not mentioned in the
Isochron dating places the age of the earth millions of years older than most
Christians believe it to be. Despite the fact that dating methods are well
understood and very reliable, Christians continue to argue against an old earth
without taking the time to try to understand that which they are arguing
Evolution is a fact and a theory. Many of the first discoveries of the field
were made by Christians, but since then the worlds of Christianity and science
have diverged on this issue. As with dating methods, Christians have passed an
a priori judgment against Evolution without really learning what it is. Almost
every Scientist who knows the subject well believes it to be true, and there
are Christian Scientists who ask other Christians to accept it also. It is my
belief that given the choice between a sound theory that contradicts
Christianity and a theory that has no scientific merit but does not contradict,
Christians would choose the latter.
Few people would say that dinosaurs did not once roam the earth, and yet the
Bible, which contains a history of the world, makes no mention of them. It does
speak of behemoths (Job 40:15-19), but this reference is surely lacking
considering how prevalent they would have been.
Some Tenets of Christianity are self-contradictory
There is a contradiction between the idea that God is all-knowing and the idea
that we have free will. This gets complicated, so let me spell is out very
Either God can not know the future, or if he (or anyone) does, then I can not
change it. Take another example: if a heavy safe were falling to the ground, I
could say that I knew that it was going to hit the floor. But if
something happens that prevents it from doing so, then I must not have known
the future after all.
- God knows everything, including the future.
- This means that God knows that I am going to Heaven or Hell.
- For argument's sake, let's say I'm going to Heaven.
- Since God knows this for a fact, there is nothing I can do to change my
Consider the idea of God being the ultimate creator of everything. Now because
Eve sinned, all humans must accept Jesus' sacrifice to be saved. The machinery
of salvation is necessary because God can not be in the presence of sin that
has not been atoned for. Apparently God has no control over the redemption of
sins, or he would have long ago banished the idea and embraced both the sinful
and sinless. Something else must have been responsible for these requirements
instead of God.
Christians do not follow everything in the Bible
I know that this can be a thorny issue in light of the clarifications that
Jesus makes on the Mosaic law. Even though he says
I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest
letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law
until everything is accomplished. Anyone who breaks one of the least of these
commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the
kingdom of heaven, ... (Matthew 5:18-19)
Jesus does modify the interpretations of the law. In one case, he prevents the
stoning of a woman by asking the crowd to confront their own sins. In another
he clarifies the meaning of working on the Sabbath. But in many cases Jesus is
very careful to not directly contradict the Old Testament law. It seems to me
that a direct adherence to the word of the Bible would require the following
of all of the laws, not a select few. For who are we to decide which are not
suited to this day and age?
People often follow the ten commandments with great rigor, but dismiss the
lesser ones. Examples of commonly dismissed laws are: not to eat pork
(Leviticus 11:7-8, Deuteronomy 14:8), not to work on the Sabbath (Exodus
31:15), not to divorce (Mark 10:11-12, Malachi 2:16), missionaries of other
faiths must be killed (Deuteronomy 13:10), and non-christians should not be
allowed in one's home (2 John 1:10-11).
Many Christians do not even know that the latter statements are in the Bible,
probably because they are selectively de-emphasized by Christianity. In fact,
Christians often criticize Muslims for carrying out the Deuteronomical
commandment to kill people who try to turn you from God. I guess I wonder
who decided which commandments were to be followed explicitely, and which
were not. It seems to me that one would be playing a dangerous game to try to
Christians believe in things not in the Bible
I'm having trouble finding Biblical references to some of the basic Christian
- The Trinity - Jesus never tells people to worship him, and never says
that he is God. Neither is there a statement that the Holy Spirit and God
are the same thing. There are references to baptizing in the names of God,
Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, and other people call Jesus God (2 Peter 1:1,
Titus 2:13, Romans 9:5, John 20:28).
- The Holiness of the Virgin Mary - Catholics believe Mary to be Holy, but
I can not find evidence for this in the Bible.
- Heaven and Hell - Jesus preached of a kingdom on earth, but I can not
find support for the typical view of heaven being a place that the spirits of
the newly departed Christians travel to. As a matter of fact, the punishment
for many Old Testament crimes was death, implying that there was no chance to
join God after death. Likewise, Hell does not seem to be mentioned anywhere
as a place of eternal damnation, although Luke 16:23 says that
Lazarus was tormented in Hell.
- Satan, the fallen angel - The Bible doesn't not seem to support the
notion that Satan is a fallen angel. (Isaiah 14:12-15 is clearly referring to
Babylon, not Satan.)
- Birth control - The Pope has decided that the prevention of pregnancy is
not to be allowed. (I personally do not think that the Pope is divine, and
realize that many Christians to not put too much into his decrees either.)
Christianity has a muddled early history
Many Christians would like to think that there has never been debate about the
beliefs of their religion -- that since it is the truth, all Christians must
have always realized that. In fact, the early history of the Church shows that
the Church Fathers were not unanimous in their beliefs. I think one good
example of this was the Council of Nicaea's convention in 325. At the time,
Constantine ordered the Church Fathers to meet and resolve the issue. The
resolution was the famous Nicene Creed, which stated that Jesus was God
incarnate. Arius was a major dissenter, and a couple of the other Christians
regretted their having signed the decree.
There were numerous forgeries of the gospels in the early years of
Christianity, such as the "Gospel of Judas Iscariot" and the "Oracles or
Sayings of Christ". Some of the debatable works are in the Apocrypha, while
others such as the gospels written in the names of John and Peter were rejected
by the pious early Christians. Would people have to forge testimonies of
someone who really existed? Furthermore, Jesus and all of his disciples were
Jewish, and yet the New Testament is believed to have been written in Greek.
Lastly, the early Christian writers show a strange lack of knowledge about
Jesus. Paul never mentions the virgin birth, Jesus' parents, Jesus' place of
birth, Jesus' area of ministry, "of Nazareth" is never used, any of the
miracles Jesus performed, the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus' parables, the Lord's
Prayer, the Roman trial, the empty tomb, or Jesus' bodily resurrection.
Clement (95 a.d.) frequently uses Old Testament examples of faith, people
preaching repentance, and people who died through jealousy, when Jesus himself
would have been a fine example of such things (Chapters 3-6, 7-8, and 9-12).
Likewise, Ignatius gives information about Jesus not found in any of the
Gospels (Smyrneans 3:1-2, Ephesians 19:2)
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