Thursday, April 28, 2011

Tough Questions Christians Fear

One who has tough questions should never ask them of those who fear the answers.

Taking my elders to task on tough Bible questions.
Have you ever had one of those moments growing up when you were presented with an idea that you immediately accepted, but deep in the recesses of your mind, something didn't add up? That was my entire childhood really. That's basically how I grew up with religion. This post is for all the younger folks out there who have questions they are either afraid to ask or were given circular, useless answers. Read on to see what all your church elders were so afraid of.


Really Tough Questions

These questions are some of the harder ones I struggled with in my youth while growing up with religion. I didn't ask them to be cheeky. They were bothersome deductions that needed answering because they threatened the sanctity of what I believed. So who better to consult than my church elders? So during our regular Bible study sessions I decided to consult them.

Unfortunately, I quickly realized that my church elders seemed to lack either the same drive or intuit to satisfy my curiosity. How could they not have thought of these tings before? Then as I asked, I spotted the unmistakable glimmer of fear emerging in their eyes. What were they so fearful of? I was only 17 years old! How harmful could I possibly be? Very harmful it seems.

This is how my journey away from faith began:

Question: Fornication is not forbidden in the ten commandments, so what's the big deal?
This was an easy one. They quickly countered that it is frowned upon in 1 Corinthians 6:18. (Compare the NIV translation). My contention however is not whether or not the act of fornication is OK. Rather, it is which set of precepts (The Ten Commandments or 1 Corinthians) takes precedence on this matter. Maybe God forgot to tell Moses something.

You see, the word "fornication" doesn't occur in modern Biblical translations. The term that is used is "sexual immorality" — leaving the passage wide open to interpretation.

But bear in mind that the Bible was written thousands of years before condoms were invented and a woman was still seen as the property of her father (when single) or her husband (when married). That was the whole reasoning behind the fornication principle — which is why it doesn't show up in the ten commandments. It is a cultural idiosyncrasy.

However since the practice was already culture, and having children out of wedlock is considered to be shameful, it's not hard to see how it found its way into Biblical canon — just like most of the other (relatively) good ideas they had floating around at the time.

The word "fornication" is a 14th Century derivative used to denote sexual intercourse that wasn't sanctioned through marriage ratified by the Church of Rome. So even if the King consented for two to be married, if it wasn't ratified by an officiator of Rome, the marriage was considered to be in fornication. King Henry VIII found this out the hard way when he attempted to annul his marriage to Queen Catherine to marry his mistress Anne Boelyn.

Today, the word has all but lost its original meaning.

Now what I'm saying does not justify going out there and engaging in decadent, wanton and indiscriminate debauchery. I would consider that to be sexually immoral, without even considering religion. The principle of abhorring fornication is a good idea, so long as it is not taken out of context. Such behavior can undesirable effects on one's life outlook.

With that said, I've been to enough church congregations where the fornication principle is wantonly and indiscriminately flouted by those who call themselves Christians. It is such a common thing now for two people to be sexually active external to marriage that one begins to wonder if there's really anyone taking it seriously aside from the church elders.

...and even then, not so much.

But what really blows my mind, is the fact that these same fornicating pseudo-Christians will tackle you to the ground if you should dare question the validity of their faith! I had a young woman get mad once just because I defied her to prove the necessity of her God. When she was done calling me a "heathen going to hell", I countered with this comment:

"If I'm going to hell, then so are you. Fornicators aren't allowed into heaven either."

The look of shame on her face was priceless. I enjoyed that. I enjoyed that a lot. When you ask Christians tough questions, as a defense mechanism, some resort to damning you to hell, or telling you that you need Jesus. If that happens, always remember this:

Question: If Jesus warned about judging others (Matthew 7:1) aren't believers who do that going to suffer the same fate?
You bet! Therefore, if there be any one of you reading this who feels quick to judge this writer about his opinions, and would be first in line to cast the first stone, remember this:

The Bible warns you against judging others (Matthew 7:1) and that you are no more worthy of the kingdom of heaven than I am (Mark 10:14) so you do not have the right to accuse me of anything (John 8:7). Instead you should teach the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15) — which is precisely what I am doing. You may disagree but you cannot judge me.


Question: Why are there so many miracles in the Bible and yet we see no such occurrence with regularity today?
The traditional answer given to this question is that miracles haven't ceased and that Bible miracles are only perceived to happen frequently because of the close proximity of such verses. I actually agree with the latter part of the explanation — but not the former. This is because they like to say that miracles do not necessarily defy the laws of nature.

...and yet that's what the Bible seems to suggest.

The laws of nature have not changed since the Bible was written. It is not far fetched then to believe that any anecdote about miraculous events in the Bible either have scientific explanations today that didn't exist in human epistemology then or they were more likely myths imbibed from neighboring cultures (such as the story of Noah's Ark — which was quite likely inherited from an older Sumerian epic of a king named Gilgamesh).

Either way, while I am willing to concede that it is reasonable to consider miracles to be a function of mathematical improbability, the nature of such events does not defy nature.

Question: Why is there no compelling evidence outside of the Bible about the existence of Christ?
Because the Christ story is very likely the latest concoction of the Sun God myth. Also, the name Jesus Christ is latin and does not occur in any Greek original. If evidence exists that the character of Jesus is real, then we are looking under the wrong name. We should be looking for "Yeshua". The only problem is that the Yeshua story occurs in the Bible twice — which validates the Sun God theory. Recall the story of Joseph and his twelve brothers.

Compare and contrast that story with Jesus and his twelve disciples.

Two stories. Same Hebrew hero name. Same themes. Same archetypes. Same Bible. Different interpretations. You would be surprised at how often this happens in the Bible.

Fascinating, isn't it?

Needless to say, you should note that most Christians are not aware of the Sun God myth. They know nothing about the astro-heliological historicity of ancient gods like Dionysus, Mythra, Hercules, Horus and many, many others. So there may be very little point in trying to have this conversation with an elder who has no previous knowledge of these historical correlations uncovered centuries ago. They really need to check that out.

Question: If God so loved the world, why would he punish homosexuals who want to serve him?
The Bible is an ancient compilation of moral anecdotes steeped in middle eastern culture. Concordantly, there is nowhere in the Bible that makes provision for the salvation of homosexuals — not because it is impossible for them to be saved, but because middle eastern culture is inherently prejudiced against homosexuals, black people, and women.

Secondly we only found out recently that homosexuality has genetically causal factors. Because of this quandary, many homosexual Christians prefer to join the Catholic ministry in many of their celibate ministerial positions as a way of "atoning" for themselves without committing the sin of homosexuality. That seemed like a good idea at the time. least on paper — until they started to help themselves to the altar boys.

Either way, John 3:16 is pretty clear. For if God so loved the world, then it only logically follows that he also loves homosexuals. Of course, how one rationalizes that and the sin of homosexuality is really up to their imagination. What really blows my mind is that there are religious homosexuals at all. It's not an implausible thought — just a fascinating one.

Question: If we go to heaven right after we die, doesn't that conflict with Ecclesiastes 9:5-6, which would defeat the point of the resurrection in Revelation?
The notion that souls go to heaven immediately after death is a late 19th century, early 20th century fable concocted from a mistranslation of Christ's conversation with the thief on the cross. Christ words translated accurately should say "I am telling you this day that you will [eventually] meet me in paradise" — not "Today you will be with me in paradise".

This means that every modern Christian anecdote about people dreaming about their loved ones that have passed on appearing to them from heaven is nothing more than wishful thinking. The same can be said of all those Christian writers who've written about near death experiences where they visited Jesus or spent a minute in the depths of hell.

They're all frauds scheming to take your money. The Bible says so.

Question: If God is omniscient (all knowing), then what would be the point of prayer?
Excellent question. There isn't one. When I was growing up in Christianity, I made this deduction when I was only 11 years old. What really surprised me was that none of the adults around me came to this deduction themselves. They were so wrapped up in their ritualism that they did not stop to think that what they were doing was rather pointless.

God already knew what they were asking for (Psalm 37:4). So why ask for it? As amused as I was about their folly, I still prayed — but for the forgiveness of my naughty deeds. But after reading about the acts of genocide in the Bible, I had a question for my elders:

Question: Why didn't God give the people exterminated in the Old Testament a chance to repent?
They mostly responded by saying that they served false Gods and that was somehow justification for them being exterminated. Then I brought up the Muslims who are doing exactly the same thing today. Their response was that Muslims are serving the wrong god. That is when I realized that Christians actually do want a religious war with Islam.

So then I asked them:

Question: How do you know that the Muslims are serving the wrong God? They too believe in only one god. Wouldn't that mean they serve the same God?
They quoted Acts 4:12 - which basically says that there is no other name by which men can be saved. I expected this. So I had another one well prepared for this eventuality:

Question: Well if that is true, then are you suggesting that all Muslims are going to hell because they speak Arabic as opposed to Hebrew?
There wasn't even a look of remorse on their faces when they gave me an emphatic "Yes". I was fascinated. This creates a very serious problem for all of those born in Islam:

Question: So what provision is there for all of these people who were born in countries where most individuals have never heard of the name of Jesus? What about the aborigines, the Eskimos and many primitive tribes disconnected from civilization?
Their responses basically elaborated on the many Christian missionaries who are risking their lives to bring the Gospel to these nations — some at very great peril. But this wasn't the heart of my concern. My concern is that they, like most Christians, believe that Christianity is the only right faith. So I asked the same question, but in a different way:

Question: How do you know that if you were raised in Morocco, or Saudi Arabia or Palestine or Sierre Leone, that you wouldn't profess with the same level of conviction your belief in Islam that you currently do in Christianity?
There was a deafening silence in the room for a whole ten seconds. That's when I realized that none of them had thought about it before. It's like Americans who are so used to their privilege, that they never think that the starving kids they see on TV with flies on their face could have been them, had fate determined they be born elsewhere.

One of female elders caved and chortled out: "Well we thank God that we were born here".

Stupid cow. I quickly responded:

"Ma'am, the only reason why you are a Christian is the same reason why you speak English. Your fore fathers were fetched from the West Coast of Africa, taken to the Western Hemisphere on a slave ship, sold into slavery for 300 years, during which time they were culturally and religiously indoctrinated to totally believe in the religion of their white masters."

After she lost her cool and insinuated that I was being indignant and perhaps even a bit insolent, one of the older male elders quieted her down and hinted that I was actually quite correct. This was the only thing my church elders were willing to openly concede to me — that their belief in Christianity is really a function of European social engineering.

That leads us to yet another problem:

Question: What about all the people who have died in these places before ever hearing of Jesus' name?
They quoted 1 Peter 3:18-20 - but I had to quickly interrupt them. I know that passage and it is inadequate because it refers to those who died during Noah's flood. However it is curiously oblivious to the people dying around the world up to when Jesus was on Earth. Then they quickly fetched 1 Peter 4:6. So I asked them to read the entire passage.

1 Peter 4:3-6 shows that the elders (and basically every other Christian who uses this passage to validate the salvation of non-Christians who died before hearing of Jesus) were taking the passage well out of context. That passages refers to people who are dead in Christ (but physically alive) as denoted by the phrase "live according to the spirit".

My elders were trumped. They stopped looking for scripture and tried to convince me that I was somehow reading it wrong. I told them that they interpreted what they wanted to believe and not what was actually written in the Bible. This went on for quite a while. I wasn't being difficult. I countered by saying that they only saw what they wanted to see.

What this means is that there is nowhere in the Bible that actually makes any kind of explicit reference to any kind of provision for people who die outside of Christianity where they have not heard of the name of Jesus. Therefore Acts 4:12 is at fault, because then all those people killed in the Old Testament genocides by the Jews were burning in hell.

This also means that God deliberately commanded his own people to send other people to hell. I had to query them about this, because all those people should have been spared:

Question: In the Old Testament, God commanded his people to exterminate many tribes in what could be considered Genocide. Doesn't one of the ten commandments say "Do not kill"?
The confounded look on their faces was a sign that I had hit a roadblock. There was a long, awkward silence between us in the Bible study room, until one of them finally spoke up: "God had commanded the purge of those nations. It was the will of God that they be destroyed." This was a sign that I had backed them into a corner. So I went in for the kill:

Question: So it's wrong for us to kill, but it's OK if God says so?
It was then that the feces hit the fan. The four men and two women rose up before me in grave discord as they all frantically attempted to answer my question at the same time. That's when it hit me: Either these elders didn't know what they were talking about (which is likely), or God is a tyrant — for God is not obligated to grant mercy to anyone.

That's when I realized a curious pattern in our church history:

Whenever something bad happened to someone at church, the elders prayed over that person, asking God to forgive them of the sin they committed that caused it to happen. However, when that person triumphed over that tragedy, they changed their speech to suggest that the person was being "tried" by God (in the same way that God tried Job).

I always found this curious, until I learned about a psychological defense mechanism we have called Cognitive Dissonance. The effect on believers is that it makes them say just about anything that positively reinforces their beliefs — even if the sequence of things they say contradicts each other. Calling them on it will get you labeled a troublemaker.

I loved being a troublemaker. I was the one guy everyone feared at any given Bible study. You know why? Because I've discovered that the more faithful a person is, the less they know about their religion. I exploit this flaw of faith wantonly and indiscriminately because I like to prove to them that faith is primarily born of ignorance, not intelligence.

Elders on Defense
I had my elders in defensive mode for most of the meeting — very uncomfortable.

After they had simmered down (and failed to answer my question), I pressed on:

Question: Speaking of Job, doesn't the fact that the devil couldn't act without God's approval mean that the Devil is also God's servant?
My elders balked at the idea. How could Satan be God's servant? Well, I asked them if they believed in an all powerful God. I got a resounding "yes". So I finished the logic for them: An all powerful God automatically implies that everything in the universe (including Satan, your friendly neighborhood scapegoat) is also inescapably subservient to his will.

I let that sink into their heads for a little bit. About 30 tense, quiet seconds passed.

My elders quickly countered that the Devil is not a servant of God, but rather that he was equal but opposite from God. (Yes — they actually said that to me.) The obvious flaw in this logic is that such an idea automatically negates God omnipotence. That in turn will automatically invalidate God. In other words, to deny this, is to deny that any God exists.

When that attempt failed, they then suggested that God reduced his power a little bit to make way for elements like the Devil and Mankind to make choices. This fails for the very same reason. It would negate the assumption that God is omnipotent. All of these attempts are scrambling to avoid the obvious reality — that God is responsible for evil.

Anyone denying this implication is in denial of what their Bible says. It is quite evident in Job 1:9 - 12, where God literally commands Satan to smite Job. To make matters worse, God prescribes a particular method for the administration of Job's suffering. God is giving a direct commandment to Satan. It is literally right there in plain, clear black and white.

The part that should utterly blow your mind is not that Job was faithful, but the fact that Job's suffering only came upon him by proxy. The Devil is acting as God's executioner here — literally going out and having Job's family slain, his possessions taken from him and causing him to become destitute in the streets. Thus Job's faith in God here is irrelevant.

Now you know where evil originates from, and why God allowed mankind to sin. If the devil is our enemy and our enemy is the servant of our God, then we are royally screwed. This means that praying to God for mercy is an utterly pointless exercise as he could just decide that today you get mercy and tomorrow you don't. So prayer is inconsequential.

God is simultaneously the source of our joy and our suffering. He capriciously decides when we prosper and when we fail; when we live and when we die. The devil is just his Machiavellian hit man, which according to Revelation, he will promptly discard when all things finally come to an end. If the Bible is to be believed, then God is a chess master playing both sides of the board and we are his pawns — all for his sordid entertainment.

But that is implication behind religious theory.

In actuality, it makes no difference if we should eliminate such a God from the picture. It would actually make the life problem simpler. If life remains the same with or without God, then we can simply say that bad things happen because they do. This is because if an all powerful God really does exist, then it would be impossible to tell. By virtue of God being omnipotent, the entire universe would not be any different from its current manifestation.

Finally, we can trace good and bad behaviour in people to either their environment or to genetics. Neither God nor the devil is needed to explain such things. Reason will suffice.

Question: If God created both good and evil, what is the purpose of serving God? Wouldn't that be the same as paying protection money to mafia enforcers?
You will be quoted either Isaiah 55:8-9 or 1 Corinthians 1:25, both of which certify the notion that "God moves in mysterious ways" (which coincidentally, is not in the Bible). The truth is that while both these passages are philosophically sound, it also renders worship to be essentially pointless. Why would you worship that which you can't possibly know?

Doesn't that mean that we could just invent some God and worship it? Curiously enough, the one true God isn't having it, hence why so many peoples were wiped out by Jews.

By virtue of the fact that the sheer complexity (or should that be, "sophistication"?) of God's motives are indiscernible to humans (according to 1 Corinthians 1:25), then that means that God is unknowable. Thus worship is defeated by the simple fact that it won't engender us mercy or blessing any more or less than someone who doesn't worship God.

Question: If the outcome of your life cannot be inextricably determined by whether or not you serve God, then what is the purpose of regarding any kind of God to begin with?
Asking that question will either engender angst or fear. The former is more likely than the latter although the latter is probably what causes the former. Either way, you want to be careful who you have this conversation with. Most of the religious teachers out there are not open to discussing these philosophical implications. Take it from me. I've been there.

But let's say you do ask this question:

The best defense they will come up with, is that our job as humans is simply to blindly follow and not ask questions, for that is the purpose of faith. You can easily defeat this by quoting the passage from 1 Thessalonians 5:21 which usually ends the discussion — usually with them becoming frustrated. Some will go as far as to fetch Proverbs 3:5-6, which encourages one to trust God and stop trying to understand him. They will emphasize the part about "not leaning on your own understanding". That's when you ask:

Question: If Bible clearly implies that God is unknowable (Isaiah 55:8-9) which means that no understanding can be derived of him directly, then how are we not to lean to our own understanding? Isn't that all we have left?
This question is the final part of your checkmate. They can't use the faith answer because of James 2:17 — which is a clear contradiction of Proverbs 3:5. Some will try to weasel their way out of it by avoiding Bible quotations from here onward and either accuse you of being difficult or of being possessed by foul spirit. I couldn't make this up if I had tried.

If that be the case, then go ahead once more and quote 1 Thessalonians 5:21 as a fairly clear verification of what you're doing. When they realize the Checkmate (and some will take a while to realize it — so be careful of circularly redundant arguments at this stage), they will excuse themselves from the conversation. Sad to say, it almost never fails — and you were only using the Good Book to query them. This is proof, my dear reader, that the Bible can be used virtually any way you like to prove anything you like however you like.

Question: If Satan appears in the Garden of Eden when man is still a primitive, but sinless creature, doesn't that mean that Satan was created before the creation?
Yes, quite likely. It is obvious that spiritual beings existed before the universal creation, which is implied in Genesis 1:26 when God says "let us" in reference to creating mankind.

Question: Well, if that is true, then doesn't that mean that evil existed before man?
Yes. There's no escaping that one. The Biblical character of Jesus confirms this when he says that he personally saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven (Luke 10:18). Since in theory, Jesus is a spiritual being made flesh, he obviously preexisted creation as well.

Question: Why would God cast Lucifer out of heaven (Isaiah 14:12) into a void because he misbehaved and then create earth and mankind in the same void?
Well first of all, Isaiah 14:12 is one of the most misquoted passages in the Bible. That passage actually refers to the King of Babylon and how he had fallen from former grace. It has absolutely nothing to do with the Devil. It's a popular reinterpretation to sell the Devil as being a separate force of evil, thereby indemnifying God of responsibility for evil.

The name Lucifer is a moniker for the King of Babylon. It never has, still doesn't, and never will refer to Satan. In fact, the name only occurs in the King James version and only once in that entire version of the Bible. It is based on an old Latin word that means "light". That is how the "Lucifer becomes Satan" myth was then subsequently invented.

With that said, the only place in the Bible that actually refers to God tossing Satan out of heaven is in Revelation 12:7-9 and that is an apocalyptic (i.e. end time) event — not one predating the creation. Therefore the idea of "God casting Satan down to earth before man" is a concocted myth. The concept only creates more problems for religious theory.

Question: OK. Then how could God have created Satan not knowing that evil would be found in him (Ezekiel 28:14-15)? Doesn't that prove that God is not all knowing?
Yes it would — however...

Read the entire chapter of Ezekiel 28. It is in reference to the King of Tyre (aka Tyrus). It again, has absolutely nothing to do with the devil. It shows once more that those two verses were taken out of context — yet another popular reinterpretation of scripture to suit the notion that God is not responsible for evil. Such a concept is not logically sound.

Ezekiel 28:14-15 is nothing more than an allegorical metaphor. This writing style is common throughout the Bible. It's an ancient form of poetic writing used to denote important people. It is probably most common in the books of Daniel and Revelation. Either way, it is totally impossible for an all knowing God to not know that Satan was evil.

But What's really going to bake your noodles, is that the allegorical Adam & Eve were childlike humans who obviously didn't understand the meaning of good and evil, hence why a simple lie sprinkled with a dash of truth was good enough to deceive them both.

So, your next question would be:

Question: Wouldn't that mean that God knowingly and deliberately setup Adam and Eve to fail?

It is a pickle. There's no doubt about it. What this loving God did to mankind is no less than entrapment. It was the same thing as placing a kid in a candy store with a huge lollipop in the center and then telling the child that he / she can have any of the candy in the store, but NOT the one in the middle of it. Can you see how that amounts to baiting?

You already know what happens when you tell a child not to do something. That's all that will preoccupy their minds until something pushes their curiosity over the limit. If I tell you not to think about elephants, what's the first thing that you think about? Elephants! — and that's all you will be able to think about until something else becomes a distraction.

Religious teachers will try to emphasize that the allegory is defined to illustrate that disobedience was the first and our most defining sin. What you must to illustrate at this point is that such a theory is riddled with logical holes. Why would God put mankind in a situation where he has no escape? They could not have reasonably outsmarted the Devil.

Furthermore, mankind didn't have the cognitive power to differentiate between one spiritual being and another and they didn't understand what it was to be disobedient until they ate the fruit. This obvious catch 22 means that Adam and Eve sinned by way of ignorance — yet God punishes them anyway, and doesn't undo the damage right there.

Question: Couldn't an all knowing God have foreseen that Satan would deceive man?
Clearly. This means that God deliberately allowed man to sin. At this point, religious teachers will suggest that man had a choice. But this logic fails for a very simple reason: If Man understood what he was doing, he probably would not have done it. This means that there is no such thing as choice; just an imperceptible continuity of cause and effect.

Furthermore, the fact that God suggests to man that partaking of the fruit would incite their deaths is meaningless to them, because at that stage, they have no idea what death is. They have no knowledge of good or evil! So how can they be making a choice, when they were not armed with the information needed to do so? That's like punishing a baby for getting a math equation wrong. They are only reacting to their primal instincts!

The greatest insult about this Biblical allegory is the fact that God designed the instinct in mankind to desire something and then tells them to do the very opposite of their desires. Do you see why this is problematic? Wouldn't it be simpler to not grant them that desire in the first place? But you will be told that God is one of unfathomable complexity. If so, simply remind them that such is only complexity they've decided to add to the universe.

If you are brave, invite your elders to consider an alternate universe where God doesn't exist. The complexity of the God problem disappears but the effect remains the same. Invite them to posit why this model of the universe could not work. They won't be able to. Remind them that telling young people that "God is too mysterious to understand" is not only lazy, circular reasoning, but it is also laying down the perfect justification for atheism.

Question: Wouldn't it be better if God created man with the knowledge to avoid sin?
No it wouldn't. Why? Because that is contrary to God's agenda. God hates sin, we're told, that's why he created Man in the Garden of Eden with no defense whatsoever against Satan. Oh wait... that doesn't really make any sense does it? Thus your next question is:

Question: If a loving God hates sin so much, why didn't he just prevent sin from existing in the first place? Doesn't that imply that he wants man to sin?
A loving God wouldn't order his people to commit genocide either (1 Samuel 15:3). So let's toss that idea out the window. There is nothing about God that is remotely loving.

Secondly, my elders then quickly countered that God doesn't want man to sin. When this happened, I reminded them that God could have just not created Satan in the first place. Instead — he keeps the devil around like a favorite vice, capriciously setting him upon even his faithful servants (Job 1:6), testing them like a vicious kid with a magnifying glass ruling tyrannically over a hapless kingdom of ants. It is an insulting idea to say the least.

Question: If God is there to redeem us, then doesn't the concept of Heaven defeat the purpose of the necessity of having a God?
This is true! Mankind wouldn't need a God if there was no suffering. The theory is that man's sin creates a need in him for God for the purposes of redemption. However, if mankind doesn't sin, then he has no need of redemption. If he doesn't need redemption, then he has no need of God. So technically, God actually needed man to sin in order to justify his very existence — or so believers seem to be suggesting with the God theory.

Of course, my elders all agreed that God doesn't need man. He could raise up stones to worship him (Luke 19:39-40). Sadly, the interpretation of this passage was taken out of context. It is not suggesting a direct consequence of failing to worship God; it's just Jesus' poetic way of expressing the significance of the shouting of praise by his disciples.

Secondly, even if God raised stones to worship him, what makes us think that the same principle wouldn't apply to the stones as well? Wouldn't God have to create some need in those stones to cause them to worship him? We are told that God glories in our praise (a concept that has no Biblical support) and that we all should praise him in thick or thin.

The truth is, if God was willing to destroy humanity in the past (i.e. with the great flood) why would he care about some petty humans? Wouldn't that defeat the purpose of God needing praise of any sort from anyone? If we humans decided not to serve God, couldn't he simply have smitten this planet with a meteor the size of Texas and start over again?

We petty humans think way too highly of ourselves.

Therefore, the only logical conclusion we are left with is that the idea that God needs man was an unintentional fallacy of religious theory. The only reason we have this idea that God and man require a relationship is that it is a failed attempt at deriving a rational explanation for why evil exists, thereby putting a happy face on our existential quagmire.

I have personally never met a believer who could offer me a reasonable answer to this question. Here's why: No answer they can give will prevent a follow up trump question:

Question: Why didn't God just create the universe initially to be the blissful paradise that heaven is supposedly going to be and leave it at that? Why go through all this drama and have so many people going to hell? Doesn't he love us?
There really isn't a rational answer to this question — which is the key unraveling point for the rest of anyone's religious belief. If Heaven is the goal, then there is no good reason why an all powerful God couldn't have just made heaven the initial reality. In creating this reality, his omniscience would have made him aware that it'd ultimately fail.

Or did it?

There's little point in suggesting that God is superior in intelligence to humans at this stage, because that only fuels justification for agnosticism. Therefore I personally believe that religious believers are looking at the universal God problem in the wrong way. What if the universe is perfect and the existence of evil deliberately facilitates God's purposes?

The Bible seems to agree with this premise (Isaiah 45:7) which would mean that God is not actually preoccupied with the safety of humans. We only think he is — which is why the widely accepted God theory has so many plot holes. Perhaps God is really a physicist working on an experiment where humans are little more than an insignificant by product.

That would explain why we think God hates evil, thus creating this existential dichotomy where he uses the Devil to punish us, uses Jesus to redeem us, and expects us to love and serve him, with a view to entering an alternate reality that he could have just setup in the first place, despite all the other things he did, like destroying mankind with a flood.

A far simpler explanation is to completely eliminate the God theory altogether and thereby eliminate all of these unanswerable questions. We would get exactly the same result, minus the God problem. For the God theory only adds a layer of complexity to a far simpler universal model, creating an unanswerable premise that is steeped in mysticism.

After The Meeting

My elders Prayed for me at the end of the meeting
My elders Prayed for me at the end of the meeting

That was the most entertaining Bible study session I've ever had at church — so much so that one of the female elders cornered me after church because she wanted to have a word with me. "I know what you're doing", she said as if I'm supposed to feel bad for asking questions. "You can't use that kind of thinking and expect to serve God." she continued. I was amused.

"Tell me," I said "how exactly then am I supposed to think?"

"You're too intellectual — you're not allowing yourself to be driven by the spirit of God." she responded.

"Are you suggesting that I'm too intellectual to be a Christian?" I queried.

"You think too much! Stop trying to make sense of it all! Just trust God! He will guide you!" she pleaded.

"So I'm too intellectual to be a Christian." I revised, looking at her quizzically, with my head slightly tilted to the left and my right eyebrow raised.

"Well damn. That explains everything. Thank you for that. It all makes sense now." I said.

I learned a very important lesson that night: One who has tough questions should never ask them of those who fear the answers. They will only mislead you in whatever way possible to save their face, but not their faith — largely because they don't know the answers either. So I gave her one last smile, then got in my father's car and drove home. I was in a great mood.

That was 12 years ago.

I have not been back to church since.

E-mail: accordingtoxen[at]gmail[dot]com

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