Problems I See With Christianity

I can not deny that Christianity has had a great influence on the Western world, and on the development of our civilization. Many people have had personal experiences that have changed their lives, and much good has been done in the name of God. Unfortunately, I don't believe that Christianity is true.

Why do I believe such an absurd thing? That's a question that has caused me to write this document, in an effort to coalesce my thoughts on the matter. There are several problems that I have with Christianity, and the points below are examples of my thoughts on them.

  1. The overwhelming problem that atheists have with religion is that they do not believe in the supernatural. If one does not believe in the spiritual realm, how can one believe in a supernatural god? I personally have not found good evidence to believe that such a realm exists.
  2. The Bible is not literally perfect. It contains many internal contradictions and inaccuracies (see my contradictions page), and was written over the course of centuries by different authors with different aims. In other words, the origins of the Bible are thought to be much more ordinary than holy. Why, for example, is there argument over which books should be included? Doesn't that cast doubt on the validity of the accepted books? A good book detailing the current state of Biblical scholarship is Who Wrote the Bible? by Richard Elliott Friedman.
  3. If we accept that there are small errors in the Bible caused by errors by the writers and copyists, then we must address the morality portrayed in it (see my morality page). I find it difficult to accept a religion that does not condemn slavery (1 Peter 2:18-21), gives rules for warfare (Deuteronomy 21:10-14), commands its followers to kill people who try to turn them from God (Deuteronomy 13:10), and consistently considers women as being worth less than men (Ephesians 5:22-24). For that matter, why should all women be forbidden to speak in church (and suffer in other ways) because Eve sinned? (1 Timothy 2:11-14)
  4. I acknowledge that by and large the Bible does agree with itself, but I wonder if the council of Nicaea would have included a book that disagreed with the rest of the Bible or Christian theology. In other words, if I fill a bowl with only red M&M's, it would seem pretty obvious to me that the M&M's in the bowl would be consistently red.
  5. I find it hard to accept a religion that banishes people of all other religions to Hell, even the ones who have never heard of Christianity or children who can't understand the concept of salvation. I also find it hard to believe that God's chosen people, largely Jewish, are going to Hell for not believing in Jesus.
  6. Christianity seems to me to have the same sort of origins as other religions, which would imply that it holds no special status among possible explanations of god. Examples of this:
  7. People do not follow every commandment that God gave to the Israelites, such as not eating pork, not working on the Sabbath, not divorcing (New Testament), and not wearing clothes woven of two materials. This makes me wonder by what right we can decide which commandments are not to be followed. I believe what has really happened is that the concept of Christianity has changed to fit the beliefs of the people who practice it.
  8. Most Christians I have met have ignore issues that are raised that they can't explain. This implies that Christianity must be viewed as perfect, and that no unexplained or inconsistent areas can be allowed. Typical responses are that one can not know the mind of God, or that one can not reach God using the mind alone. People seem unwilling to address the inconsistencies in Christianity that have resulted from its evolution over the centuries. In other words, most devout Christians change the subject when they are forced to experience cognitive dissonance resulting from the conflicting assertions of their religion.
  9. I wonder if people of other religions have "personal experiences" that change their lives. This would make me wonder who they are having their experiences with, if their god does not exist. From the Naseem e Dawat, by the Islamic thinker Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad:
    Our Ever Living and All Sustaining God talks to me like one person to another. I ask Him something and supplicate Him and He answers in words full of power. If this should happen a thousand times, He does not fail to answer. In His words, He discloses wonderful hidden matters and displays scenes of extraordinary powers till He makes it clear that He alone is the One Who should be called God. He accepts prayers and intimates their acceptance. He resolves great difficulties and through repeated supplications, revives those who are sick unto death. He discloses all these designs in advance through His word which relate to future events. He proves that He is the God of heaven and earth. (p. 82)
  10. "The resurrection is not an 'established historical fact.' To begin with, there were no eyewitnesses to Jesus' alleged resurrection. Second, there is nothing outside of the New Testament that documents a resurrection. Third, the New Testament itself is unreliable because of a plague of contradictions. Fourth, miracles outside of the New Testament, which Christians do not believe, are better documented than the miracles of the New Testament itself. Fifth, there was a lack of contemporary belief in Jesus' resurrection. Sixth, historical evidence suggests that the Christian belief in resurrection was at least partially borrowed from earlier pagan religions. Seventh, the kind of rigorous evidence needed to really prove that Jesus rose from the dead is lacking. 'Not because of the insufficiency of the evidence but in spite of the sufficiency do men still' believe in the resurrection." (from The Resurrection: Hoax or History?)

    I would add to this the following points:

  11. The many contradictions in the resurrection accounts cause me to doubt their historicity. I don't expect the accounts to be inerrant, but the gospels show a larger number of discrepancies in the resurrection accounts than in the other narratives in Jesus' story.
  12. There seems to be a contradiction between God's omniscience and the idea of free will. If God knew the future of man, he would have known that the creature he was making was going to sin. In other words, if God knows what we're going to do, how can we do anything other than that which he has foreseen?

    Omniscience raises some questions about the nature of God: If God foresaw Eve's mistake, why didn't he put a guard around the tree before she had the chance to eat of the fruit? If he sees everything, did he not see the snake tempting them? If he really wanted to have Adam and Eve with him forever in paradise, why didn't he stop the snake?

  13. If God created everything, then why did he create evil? If he didn't create evil, then he must not be omnipotent. If he is the ultimate origin of evil, then he either isn't as good as we think, or is powerless to stop it.

    If God did not create evil, then there must be a more powerful "Meta-God" that did create it.

  14. How do we know that the Christian God is the true god? What if the true God is Allah? What if the true God has not yet been found by man, and the personal experiences we feel are misinterpretations of the true God's message? Thousands of religions have come and gone, and yet Christianity purports to be the religion (just as all the other religions do). I have not heard a sound argument as to why Christianity is right, and the other religions are wrong. How do we know that all religions, including Christianity are wrong, and that Christians have been misinterpreting messages from the true but thus far unknown God?
  15. Christian beliefs have been shown to be wrong in the past, such as the flatness of the earth and the geocentric nature of the universe. These mistakes would seem to indicate that the Christian faith has been in error, and might be in the future as well. God has been pushed back by science in the past, and I see no reason why this would change in the future, until God's domain finally becomes that of the unknowable.
  16. I've never seen a miracle of God that can not be explained through the work of humans or chance. Typical miracles are on the order of receiving aid from others when one is in need, the healing of a disease, turning one's life around, or raising enough money for a church. God certainly isn't destroying cities or stopping the sun like he is described as doing in the Old Testament. Emily Dickinson said "They say God is everywhere, and yet we always think of Him as somewhat of a recluse."
  17. One of the Christian tenets is that we hold a special place in the universe. But I have not heard of a difference between humans and animals that can not be attributed to our higher intelligence. How do we know that God didn't create the universe for the dolphins, and that we were the byproduct, and in our egotism have constructed a God that is interested in us?

    The Gazzaniggia split brain experiments and other psychological studies have shown that people's personalities and cognitive functions are a result of the chemical and physical makeup of their brains. Doctors can evoke a "religious experience" by delivering electricity to a certain point in the brain. What is the soul, where is it located, and what does it do?

  18. For that matter, how do we know the Christian God is not completely the misguided construction of the human race? Early religions used gods to explain nature. How is this different from using God to explain creation? Is it just a coincidence that religions explain the world and give hope to the hopeless?

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