Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Christian Contradictions Redux

Much of this has been covered in other posts on this blog, but I thought it would be interesting to compile a list of what I think are the most blatant internal contradictions I have encountered with religious beliefs over the years, specifically with Christian beliefs.  And by “internal contradiction” I mean incoherence: one part of the doctrine contradicting another part, not the doctrine contradicting empirical fact or scientific theory.

  • Jesus stated many times in the New Testament that if his followers asked for anything in his name (or in the name of the Father or with faith, etc.), it would be given to them. And yet, when you ask most Christians why they didn’t get what they prayed for, you are told that “God promised to answer all prayers, but sometimes the answer is ‘no’” and “God moves in mysterious ways.”
  • Many theists claim that it is impossible to have any sort of “absolute” morality without God, since man’s morality is always relative. Furthermore, the way to discover God’s absolute morality is by reading the Bible. However, when pressed to explain why God commanded or permitted many things that seem horrible today (slavery, genocide, etc.) or why God forbade many things that seem perfectly all right today (eating pork and shellfish, mixing two different types of fabrics, etc.), the answer is often that those rules were given for the people who lived at that time and don’t apply to us today. In other words, God’s morality is relative and not absolute after all.
  • Many theists claim that the apparent design we see in nature is “proof” (or at least strong evidence) for the existence of God, since only a perfect being such as God could be responsible for the perfection of design we see all around us. However, when you point out all the obvious flaws with nature’s designs (blind spots in the human eye, etc.), the response is that Adam and Eve sinned, thereby causing the universe to enter into a “fallen” state. If the apparent design is obviously flawed, however, how can you point to its perfection as proof of God’s existence?
  • If all children are said to be innocent (“Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven”), how can some Christians also believe that the mere act of being born means that they have sinned enough to be condemned to an eternity of torment in Hell unless saved by Christ’s redeeming grace?
  • If God loves and cares for all his creations (including the lowly sparrow, according to scripture), why did he create a world where there is so much suffering in the natural world? I’m not talking about man’s inhumanity to man and suffering caused by free will, but the fact that some animals survive by eating other animals, some wasps lay their eggs in living hosts who are eaten alive once the eggs hatch, etc. Saying, “It’s all Adam and Eve’s fault since their sin cause the world to enter a fallen state” doesn’t resolve the contradiction, since God set up the rules in the first place. The world didn’t have to enter a fallen state when Adam and Eve sinned, that’s just how God set things up. He could have set it up so mankind suffered, but the rest of the natural world didn’t. So either God’s not really omnipotent after all or else he just really likes to see small cute little animals suffer and die.
  • The so-called “Prosperity Gospel”. On one hand, Jesus commanded his followers to give their money to the poor and said that it would be easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into heaven. On the other hand, worship Jesus (by giving me all your money) and he will make you fabulously wealthy, just like me!
  • On one hand, Christians believe that God is eternal and unchangeable (“the same yesterday, and today, and forever”) and that Jesus did not come to destroy or abolish the law of the Old Testament (“Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.”) On the other hand, when asked why we no longer have to keep kosher today, or stone homosexuals, or avoid mixing threads of two different fabrics, etc., the answer is invariably because Jesus did away with the Old Testament law and we don’t have to follow it today. Well, except for the parts we really like, such as the 10 commandments. And, really, anything that says homosexuality is bad. But shrimp and bacon? Om nom nom nom…
  • Many Christians here in the U.S. insist that America was founded as a Christian country and that our legal system derives from the Bible. As such, they think it would be great to have laws that outlaw abortion, gay rights, etc. However, the Bible also requires believers to aid the poor and needy. So we should have laws in place to help the poor and the needy, right? No, of course not, since that is something individuals should be concerned with and not the government. In other words, legally banning gay marriage is good since it accords with the Old Testament, but food stamps and welfare programs are bad, despite the fact that they accord with the New Testament. Gotcha.
  • Theists often attack atheists who believe the universe was NOT created by God by claiming that atheists believe that the universe “came from nothing” (a patently ridiculous concept, apparently). But when asked how the universe was created, they state that God created it… from nothing!