The title of this blog post refers to the short book by Richard Carrier which I have just read, just in case you are concerned for my eternal salvation. Although, I have to say, the argument put forward in this book is very strong and compelling, such that, after reading this book, I am considerably closer to not being a Christian than I was before reading the book!
This is a short book, with an introduction, four chapters, and a short conclusion. Each chapter discusses an issue which leads Richard Carrier to believe that Christianity is false. The aim here is not to show that there is no God (although many of the things he says can be taken that way), the aim is to demonstrate to the reader that there is simply no justifiable reason to believe in the Christian God. The issue of whether or not there is a morally neutral, limited in power type god is not discussed, but the idea of an all powerful, good and loving God is considered and effectively refuted.
Don't believe me? Read the book. It is deliberately short and cheap (only £2.53 on Kindle in the UK, and less than £5 in paperback on Amazon UK). No, seriously, go and read the book. If you are a Christian, read the book. If Christianity is true, you will hopefully find the flaws in Carrier's argument, but if not, maybe you will find the truth. The truth will set you free, right? What have you got to lose?
The four reasons Carrier gives for his non-belief are:
- God is Silent: that is, if God is as most Christians describe him, he should be able to make his message clear to everybody. And what's more he should be willing to make his message clear to everybody. The reality is, however, that most people are not aware of a clear message from God, and the message that seems to be heard by believers is not a consistent or even a non-contradictory one. Different believers get different messages and these conflict, and these lead (quite literally) to conflict. God appears to be unable to deliver a simple message to his people, let alone to everyone else. Thus, the Christian God is refuted by his silence.
- God is Inert: that is, there is no evidence that there is a loving and supremely powerful God at work in the world. Innocent children suffer and die. Good people suffer and die. Innocent children of good Christian people suffer and die. God apparently does nothing to stop this. This is inconsistent with the claimed character of the Christian God, thus, God is refuted by his inactivity.
- Wrong Evidence: basically, extraordinary claims need extraordinary evidence, and the biblical evidence is barely even mundane. The best evidence for the death and resurrection of Jesus is four non-eyewitness accounts, which contradict each other on important issues, and a bunch of letters, ostensibly from someone who never met Jesus in the flesh and only had a vision of him. And all these were written a couple of decades after the alleged events, at the earliest. How is all that sufficient evidence for the greatest claim ever made?
- Wrong Universe: the Christian claim is that God made the universe and put us, the pinnacle of creation, into it. So why is 99.99999% of all creation hostile to us? As far as we can tell, if you scaled the entire universe down to the equivalent size of a house, then the tiny zone which is capable of sustaining human life is as small as a single proton! Invisibly and insignificantly small. This is not what we would expect if the universe was intelligently designed for us, but is exactly what you would expect if we are merely an accidental by-product of a chaotic universe. Carrier goes into some interesting stuff about current cosmological theories which I can't summarise here, but his case is very compelling. He also contrasts the ancient view of the universe, as assumed by the New Testament writers and which is consistent with the theory of God, with the current scientific view of the universe, which is not. Fascinating stuff, and justified in the conclusion that the Christian view of God is false.
If you think you can demonstrate that any of Carrier's arguments are wrong, read the book and refute them. Let me know (by commenting on this post) when you have. Seriously, I'd love to hear your reasoning. I actively want to believe in the Christian God, but my faith is currently crumbling under the weight of evidence against this position.