TinMan

Talking Religion, One year Later

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It is coming up on a year since I left the faith and became agnostic in my view of religion, and specifically Christianity.  In the past few months, I had a few conversations with family members and co-workers who are still in the faith about the cerebral problems I have with cogency of Christian theology, science versus biblical narratives, higher biblical criticism, as well as lower criticism, and through it, I have picked up a few trends I keep running into.

Usually when I start honing in on various problems, the biggest rebuttal I hear is, “it is all about faith/trust in Jesus.”  This is especially true whenever I start discussing church history regarding differing views on marriage versus celibacy, poverty versus riches, defining sin, and etcetera.  I take issue when I hear it is all about just having faith, because all Christian groups do not actually believe this is the bottom line, there is always a catch.  Let us be frank, after you “have a little talk with Jesus,” then you need to conform to a certain set of rules depending on which denomination you are dealing with.  If it was really just about having trust in Jesus to save you, then why do people get so bent about sex, movies, language, ethics, and the rest of the gambit?  At the end of the day, it cannot be just about having faith, and nobody really believes that.  It is speaking out of both sides of the mouth.

This kind of double talk is rampant when I am in these discussions with believers.  My favorite times are when they retreat to ambiguity, or will start saying the Bible does not teach mainstream orthodoxy beliefs.  For example, I have had a few discussions with a colleague at work who constantly contradicts himself sentence by sentence, to rationalize his belief system.  The other day I had him cornered in his argument when I asked him why an all loving, all knowing, omnibenevolent, omnipresent, God who supposedly hates sin so much he is going to put sinners on a spit and roast them for eternity, would actually create the capacity to sin in the first place.

My thought on this was that if we take a really high view of a constant theme in the Bible, it is that God is just super upset about sin, rebellion, whatever you want to call it.  If that is indeed the case, I find it extremely myopic that said God would then create creatures even capable of committing sin.  I know the typical apologetic response will be, “freewill.”  Yeah, that is great, but surely a solution would be to create beings with freewill who are only ever able to make choices that fall in the domain of acceptable to YHWH.

Considering this further, if YHWH created everything, then he also created the capacity for his creation to sin, then he must not hate sin that much; for if he did, then the capacity for sin would not exist.  Created beings could only ever choose “good.”  How would that not be a win-win for everyone?

Whenever I bring this argument up, I can see the mental squirming.  My colleague said, “The Bible does not teach that.”  When I asked him “what,” he basically stated the Bible does not teach that God contains all those characteristics I stated above.  I could only give him a blank stare because he knows that is not what he believes, nor any other Christian you talk to, and he only said it to get out of a tight spot. 

Maybe my argument is flawed and I have not considered other possibilities, but it just strikes me odd that the God of the Bible who hates sin so much that he is willing to torture people, who he supposedly loves so much, but he never took steps to make sure such a horrific scenario did not play out.

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That has to be one of the best analyst of Christianity I’ve read. I think you nailed it. :woohoo:

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I must say the problem of creating a being with the ability to sin is one of my biggest problems as well.

 

I usually receive the same free will answer, but, with a twist, that love is free , so only if a being has the possibility of rejecting God he is truly free, otherwise love would be forced.

 

My problem with that is the following. People rarely describe what freedom or free will is, it is like reciting an advertising slogan. I mean the human freedom or freedom to choose is limited. And the next thing, freedom in itself is nothing, if you describe it like that. It does not matter at all. If the the point is eternal life in union with God, then freedom is just an unnecesary risk. Again, rarely do they describe what love is, and why exactly does it require the freedom of rejection. And if so, why does that rejection mean eternal conscious torment. I mean, is that really a choice? Eternal bliss and eternal suffering? Why would a rational being, like humans and angels supposedly are, would choose the second. A life of loneliness, helplessness, suffering,. Then the creature itself must be somehow irrational. Or flawed.   

 

People, even men, usually choose and chose short sound bytes that sound wise, like a catchy tune.

 

Plus if the question is one of blind "pure" faith, than why create beings endowed with reason? It looks as God is setting himself or his beings to fail.

 

And the faith argument is flawed because I can give examples in the Bible where the Jews and the Christians were told to test and see what is true. Like the prophet Elijah and the prophets of Baal, the wonders and wisdom of Moses, and in the New Testament to test "spirits" and see which if them is right.

 

And it is flawed because suppose I would come to you, and say, I am the messenger of the ultimate creator God. His name is Bob. He is the totality of being and incomprehensible to the human mind. He requires absolute faith and obedience and I am the only vessel through which he speaks. You have to take my word for it. Would any one believe me ? Just on "faith"? Any religion can make that claim. Many do. The patter is : There is this human messenger who is a vessel of the superior being who demands faith and obedience and worship. Reward is pleasure, punishment is pain.

 

 And the thousand year old culturally advanced religions, like Christianity, or Islam, or Buddhism, or strands of Indian faiths, have refined dogmas and methods of practiced so they CAN produce some results and may seem convincing. Why believe St Paul and not Muhammed?

 

Like was said, of course , I admit to not having other data, or information that could change my mind. But when I ask, seldom is something new presented to me.

 

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I also like to frame the Christian god in terms of a human, to showcase just how evil he is. If any one of us were to have a child or even a pet, and give the same rule/punishment that results in burning that creature alive, we'd be locked up as a horrible rat-bastard fiend, not exulted and praised as the ultimate form of love. Also, if I tell a woman that she can freely choose to love me or not, but that there is a consequence of not loving me of burning alive for eternity, would I be viewed as a cool dude, or gracious and kind man? No, I'd be a psychopath narcissist, again locked up or shot. Believers like to portray us as deserving it. One pastor I had soberly said "I'm glad he made even one way to be saved". He was right where Christianity wants all believers to be, death of self, complete agreement with the abuser that we deserve the beatings/burning. It is really a disgusting twisting of a human mind, but not uncommon in abusive relationships where one spouse treads on eggshells trying to not piss off the other, who will still lash out over nothing and who expects the one being hurt to agree with the abuse.

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