I want to thank everybody who responded to my last post, The Christian Double Standard, and to Gabe for his contribution. I asked Christians to give me their take on the scenario, and query, set up my my correspondent (and Gabe, if you’re reading, I’d love to hear your take on it too). I actually received quite a few responses, primarily from the WordPress Tag system, and I think it was a good set of responses. It didn’t change my mind at all, and probably didn’t change too many Christians either, as this particular dialog goes on daily, with little change in the demographic positions, but is intellectually stimulating nonetheless.
The original discussion revolved around the Problem of Evil, and Gabe set forth what I consider a very difficult question to answer, but only if you believe in a god such as the one Christians assert exists. Gabe posited that if God seems to do something, or refrains from doing something, that we would condemn our fellow man for, why does he get off the hook? I had a variety of responses, and I’m still not really satisfied with most of the answers. Let’s look at some of the assertions.
A guy named Poppies (I kept wanting to type “Poopies”, but figured that’s too scatological) said:
The historical record *does* show God intervening in human existence in rare circumstances, but all these events were connected specifically with the plan of salvation, and were typically actions affecting individuals set in their path already.
It was pointed out by a few atheist commenters that the historical record doesn’t seem to be that clear. My experience with most Christians is that when then use history to justify the existence of their god, (not to mention science) they founder on the shoals of wishful thinking, invariably using one “historical” record, commonly referred to as the Bible. I would love to see real historical evidence of God intervening in human affairs, but sadly, I have yet to find any. Maybe we can all get Poppies to come back and show us this evidence?
Gary Crosby then wrote:
There is yet another matter which I struggle with myself and that is the basic issue of death. Why choose death as the means of exit at all?
I have a better question. Why is there death? God wanted to create something that he could use to insure a stable of worshipers, right? He wants us all to praise his glory. So why set us up to die in the first place? Why create earth, a transit stop, at best, on the road to heaven? Why not just create us in heaven in the first place? This whole mortal coil thing seems just so inefficient, and to boot, he refuses to show his face to prove to us that he’s even up there waiting for us to find him. So, Gary, why are we mortal? Couldn’t god have created us immortal in the first place? Why do we have to run this little gauntlet he set up?
Thmichael then posed this question, which sort of diverged from the original post, but let’s run with it.
You trust in your own wisdom and understanding supposedly based on “logic” and build your beliefs around you like a moat. Why attack Christians? Why carry a banner to stake your claim to self knowledge?
I could actually turn this around. Why do Christians insist that what they clearly call their beliefs, something they accept on faith (which requires no evidence whatsover) are the absolute Truth, something that must be believed by everyone. That’s EVERYONE.
Why do we have to fight Christians in school board meetings because they want to force their peculiar creation myth (debunked by science) down the throats of unsuspecting children? ALL children within their particular jurisdiction, not just the ones who share their beliefs.
Why do we have to deal with a war created by a man who thinks that god told him to start the war? Why do our strongest and best citizens have to die in this war?
Why do we have to deal with blue nosed and blue haired Christians when we want to make private decisions involving our personal sex lives?
And why do all these people want to inject their religion into the political process in this, a secular country?
Answer those questions, Thmichael, and you’ll find the beginnings of an answer to your question.
I think vitaminbook set forth a succinct explanation. Allow me to riff off of it.
The ‘problem of evil’ is easily explained if you think of the Bible as reactionary to the real world rather than describing the ‘blueprint’ (if you will) for the real world. By that I mean that the writers had to account for the fact that death, destruction and sickness exist, even though their God is supposedly all-loving.
This is exactly the underpinning for the rise and existence of religion. Relatively ignorant human beings (and I mean ignorant in the sense of lacking knowledge, not as a pejorative) looked around at the world they lived in and had no explanation for natural phenomena, like lighting, drought, floods, weather, illness and other obviously significant occurrences in their daily lives. With the expansion and development of the human brain, they naturally asked what caused this stuff. They reacted to these occurrences, and devised the best explanations they could with their limited understanding of nature. It was spirits, or supernatural agents (and they would not have understood the distiction between supernatural and natural — it was all the same to them, just an explanation). And the next thing you know, religion was started. Christians, tell me I’m wrong.
Davo asked the most enlightening question of all:
I never understood why God is a “he.” Does God have a penis?
Well, Jesus Christ! Isn’t it obvious? He certainly doesn’t have a vagina. Would we have so many patriarchal religions if god didn’t have a schlong? Seriously, this is quite good evidence for the proposition that religion arose out of ancient mythology, because males ran the world then, when brawn was important and the equalizing brain less so.
So lets have a round of applause for Goddesses.