40 “Difficult” Questions to ask a Christian, Part 1

I believe I found this post through Twitter a while back and thought I’d write on it.  Not so much because I feel a need to offer proper answers, more so because I am always amused at what Atheists offering these kinds of questions or challenges believe they are “difficult” or substantive challenges to Christianity.  It makes one wonder, if these are the kinds of things they believe are difficult for Christians, how intellectual could their rejection of Christianity or adherence to atheism possibly be?

If a hundred different religions have to be wrong for yours to be right, does this show that people from all over the world like to invent gods that don’t exist?

I think people try their best to explain the world around them.  I think it also means God is so self-evident that 99% of the world’s historical and present population are able to recognize that.  But more to the point, it is irrelevant to whether there is a God who exists if there frauds and inventions.  Thousands of invented gods have nothing to do with the probability of a real God existing.  They aren’t tied to one another and need to be investigated on their own, according to their own merits.

If your parents had belonged to a different religion, do you think you would belong to that religion too?

Possibly.  But this too is irrelevant to whether the God I or my neighbor, or the Pakistani believes in is real or not.  Your culture and upbringing isn’t destiny.  There are thousands of people every day who convert away from their parent’s religious beliefs.  This certainly wasn’t the case for me, and it’s not the case for many.

If people from the five major religions are each told conflicting information by their respective gods, should any of them be believed?

If any should be believed it should be the one who can offer the most compelling case for the truth of their religion.  But let’s ask a different group of people this question to see just how irrelevant and wrong-headed it is.  If five scientists all have conflicting theories about a particular phenomena, should any of them be believed?  It just doesn’t matter how many people have a different story.  Each story is to be evaluated and accepted or rejected.

How can you tell the voice of God from a voice in your head?

Biblically speaking, no Christian has an expectation to receive a private internal message for God.  So if one were getting messages in their head from who they believed to be God, they shouldn’t.

How can you tell the voice of God from the voice of the Devil?

Though in eras past God communicated through prophets, but no longer (Luke 16:6).  God doesn’t speak audibly and directedly any more.

Would you find it easier to kill someone if you believed God supported you in the act?

Of course I would.  But since God has commanded us to not murder I would know that if a communication I believed was God told me to kill someone, I have good reason to believe it’s not God.  God would not tell us to violate His previously revealed word.

If God told you to kill an atheist, would you?

Of course I would… Assuming it was actually God.  But as noted above I would have good reason to know it wasn’t God ordering me to kill an Atheist.

When an atheist is kind and charitable out of the kindness of his heart, is his behavior more or less commendable than a religious man who does it because God instructed him to?

On the Christian view, when people do good deeds, they should be done for the Glory of God.  Roughly this means one’s actions should recognizable as being done because of a love for God, and should not cause others to think badly of God because of the actions of the believer.  This is not to say everything a believer does is good by default.  Far from it.  Most Christians — myself included — regularly besmirch the name of God with our actions.  That is a failure on the Christian’s part.

So it is in this way that the ‘good‘ deeds of the skeptic carry the wrong motive.  Essentially, all the good the skeptic does is for selfish means.  The driving factor is themselves.  Ultimately, things are done only because the skeptic wants to do it.  Even when doing good for altruistic purposes, there is a sense of self-fulfillment [doing the thing for one’s own purposes alone].  Of course, everyone is different, and many skeptics will argue their deeds are not self-centered, but I think when motives are boiled down, they will eventually arrive at some sense of self-fulfillment.  This is by default, a failure on the skeptic’s part.

If you are against the Crusades and the Inquisition, would you have been burned alive as a heretic during those events?

The Crusades were an attempt to prevent Islam from violently consuming Europe.  The Inquisition was an attempt (done wrongly) to purge Christendom form heresy.  I am neither a Muslim violently conquering the region nor am I a heretic by theological definition.

If your interpretation of a holy book causes you to condemn your ancestors for having a different interpretation, will your descendants condemn you in the same way?

Possibly.  But this fact alone doesn’t give us any indication as to which interpretation is correct.  That has to be determined by looking at the texts in their direct contexts.  By the way, there are relatively few disputed interpretations.

Rape wasn’t always a crime in the Middle East two thousand years ago. Is that why `do not rape’ is not part of the Ten Commandments?

What significance does the fact that ‘do not rape’ wasn’t part of the ten commandments have?  There were laws and punishments against rape given elsewhere in the Old Testament laws.

Do lions need `god-given’ morality to understand how to care for their young, co-operate within a pack, or feel anguish at the loss of a companion? Why do we?

Lions commit forcible copulation (rape) and infanticide.  Does this guy really want to hold up lions as the moral standard?  Anyway, Children need to be trained out of being selfish and hitting those who upset them and stealing.  They will naturally lie and manipulate on their own if left to their own devices.  Through out history man has murdered one another, stolen, raped, pillaged, conquered, abused, enslaved, tortured… This list goes on.  You tell me, can we trust ourselves?

If organized religion requires a civilization in which to spread, how could this civilization exist without first having a moral code to make us civil?

Perhaps one should look into how moral ‘civilizations’ were prior to biblical revelation.  Child sacrifices, ritual dismemberments, beastiality, and all kinds of other nasty practices were a normal part of life.  ‘Civil’ society is a relatively new phenomena as far as human history is concerned.

Any Thoughts?

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