Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Answers for the Hillbilly Atheist: Part 1

There's lots of websites out there which ask lots of questions of Christians. "How can you believe the bible if...?" or "How can you believe in God when...?" and the like.

One such list of questions can be found on the Hillbilly Atheist website. There's over a hundred of them. Over the space of several posts I want to see if I can answer all these questions. Of course, I'll not be able to answer them to the satisfaction of the Hillbilly Atheist himself, but some folks out there might find the answers interesting.

And for the record, these are my answers to the questions and may not represent orthodox or common Christian belief. So here we go:

1. How do you know Allah, Zeus, Thor, Aphrodite, Santa and the tooth fairy don’t exist? Keeping this in mind, how am I arrogant to believe the same about Yahweh?

I believe that some of those gods on your list are genuine attempts to explain inexplicable phenomena. God (the real one) did something and people tried to make sense of it and invented stories about these gods to explain them. I'm not so arrogant as to say that some of the stories about the god Yahweh don't fall into the same category. But just because people made up stories about some non-existant beings, doesn't mean that all beings are non-existant. We exist after all. Perhaps there is a real God, whatever you want to call him.

2. Isn’t the ritual of the Lords supper just symbolic cannibalism?

No. Its a reminder. The meaning of it is 'When you break bread at meal times, remember how I died. When you drink wine, remember my spilt blood'. I don't think Jesus intended us to believe that the bread somehow actually becomes his flesh or the wine becomes his blood - they remain bread and wine. I don't actually think that Jesus intended us to ritualise this rememberance either - eating bread and drinking wine were everyday occurrences in the time of Jesus, I'm sure he meant that people were to remember him at every meal time.

3. If god created us, why do men have nipples?

This is a silly question. 'If god created us' says nothing about how God created us. If he wanted to do it through evolution, that's his business. And evolution explains the nipples.

4. Who created god and if you say he always existed then how do you know god is eternal?

There are two possibilities. Either something came from nothing, or someone came from nothing and went on to create something. Either way, we have no answer on a human level. In fact, I'm heretical enough to consider the possibility that God was himself created by a higher deity, and so on. But that is a circular line of thinking and it gets you nowhere.

5. How do you know the bible is right?

I don't. I believe bits of it speak the truth. I believe this because it is consistent with my experience. How do you know it is entirely wrong?

6. Why did god create the devil?

Did God create the devil? Where does it say he did? As soon as something is defined as 'good' there is the possibility of evil, as soon as something is defined as 'right' there is the possibility of wrong. God ordered the universe in such a way that some things were good. Therefore it is to be expected that bad things would be also. Would you rather have a bland universe where there is no good?

7. If Adam and eve didn't know good and evil before they ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil so why does god punish them when they didn't know what they were doing?

Apparently God told them not to do it. I'll blog about this issue soon. Watch this space...

8. If incest causes genetic problems which there is proof that it does how can we all come from just two people?

Go talk to a biologist. We did all come from two common ancestors. Whether they were called Adam and Eve and were, in fact, human is another matter entirely.

9. Why are all prophecies in old testament about Jesus vague and taken out of context (if you don’t believe me look them up and read the whole chapter that contains the "prophetic" verse you‘ll see that the verse applies to that chapter alone and its time not the future or Jesus and is very vague even if it were a prophecy)

This is too vague a question. Which specific verses? And not all of them are vague, although i'll concede that some are.

10. Why don’t Jews convert if the prophecies are so convincing?

Some do. I know plenty of (ethnically) Jewish Christian believers. I also know a few who were raised in the Jewish faith and converted when they saw the truth of Jesus.

That'll do for now. I'll reply to more of these questions another time...

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