I’ve gone through some stuff. I’m the Dad in a multi-cultural blended family and a politically correct society. So I’ve had some experiences that can’t be classified as standard. This tends to change a person’s perspective somewhat.
I have gotten into a few debates on this topic of God. Nice, friendly debates (at least from my end). I’m not here to pass judgment on anyone else’s lifestyle, but having been challenged on this subject many times by people, and even by my own thoughts via painful experiences I’ve had, here are some of my views. I hope the reader understands that I am sincere in my approach, not wanting to trivialise anyone else’s life struggles:
I have heard many people put forth the view that “God never gives you more than you can handle.” I do not agree with this view (and I’m not alone). This is a pretty meaningless thing to say in the midst of real pain and trauma. The Bible makes it very clear that without God we are weak and ineffectual beings, blown along by every wind of change. Only in real relationship and connection with God will the phrase “The joy of the Lord is my strength” have any real meaning. For that reason it is clear we are unable to handle a lot of the pain life throws at us on our own, which puts the saying “God never gives you more than you can handle” into the category of well-meaning but ultimately not helpful.
I was raised Catholic, and like many people who leave the Catholic church, I became disillusioned with the hypocrisy of people and leaders in the church. However, unlike a lot of people I come across, I still continued to embrace Christianity (just not Catholicism). As far as I can see, the perceived hypocrisy of persons claiming to be Christians is not a valid reason to reject Jesus Christ. It’s like throwing out the baby with the bath water. Here are some of the objections I get to Religion in general:
1. Prove that God exists
I have sometimes been challenged to prove the existence of God. I have plenty of evidence I can present, but when I ask the other person for evidence of their beliefs, they say the “burden of proof” is on me. Let’s investigate this:
Usually my opponent will say that Atheism is not a belief, but rather a “lack of belief.” This is disingenuous. Atheism is the belief “That there is No God.” It is a religious position whether you want to call it one or not.
Atheists say that “Atheism makes no claims, and therefore has nothing to defend.” Um… no. The statement “Atheism makes no claims” is itself a claim. The argument is self-refuting. The Atheist claim is “That There is No God.”
If you want to challenge me to entertain this notion, then you have to present evidence to back up your claim. As Dr William Lane Craig once said, “All the proofs of God’s existence may fail, but it may still be the case that there is a God.” Atheists must present evidence to the effect that there is no God.
Alternatively, you could just follow the logic at http://proofthatgodexists.org/
2. God is evil because he commanded genocide
… or because he wiped out humanity with a flood, etc etc.
I’m amazed how often people use this. It’s not logical to say there’s no God, then essentially turn round and claim that He is evil. What this really says to me is that people, in the midst of real suffering and pain, don’t understand why they see suffering in the world, or in their own life, and they can’t reconcile their pain with the existence of a loving God. This does nothing to dis-prove God’s existence, but can cause people to reject God because of some of the difficulties we have in understanding why certain things happen in our lives. It’s somehow easier to write him off completely and say, “I’m an atheist. These things couldn’t happen if there was a loving God”, than wrestle with the hard questions. Which I totally get – and I’ve had my share of life-sucking trauma to deal with. Unfortunately, it’s an emotional decision that doesn’t lead us to real truth.
This also highlights another problem. If Atheism is true, then there is no objective morality. What I mean by that is that there if there is no God, then there is nothing and no one outside of humanity by which we can set the bar by. Under these circumstances, morality becomes completely arbitrary.
Some Atheists like to claim that by the principle of “enlightened self-interest” or secular humanism that society can be good. However, on this worldview it is STILL completely arbitrary whether someone chooses to be an Adolf Hitler or a Mother Teresa. And essentially, if you can do something bad without getting caught, then there is absolutely nothing wrong with that on the atheist view.
But good and evil do exist, and we all sense it naturally. That is why an Atheist can lead a moral life, because he/she has had “Right” and “Wrong” set in their hearts – by God, ironically.
Therefore, when an Atheist claims that genocide is wrong, or killing is wrong, or rape is wrong, he/she is actually borrowing from a Biblical worldview. My foundation always comes back to this.
3. Christians suck because always say I’m going to Hell.
This is not really an argument against the existence of God, but more an objection to following Him because of the perceived actions of His representatives. I certainly don’t support the idea that people should go
around condemning other people. After all, Christ died for us while we were still sinners.
Christians who do this have forgotten the verse in 1 Corinthians 5:12:
“What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside?”
4. The Bible has been re-translated so many times it is inaccurate.
A very common misconception based on the fallacy that the evidence is “too old.” However, the crucial gap is not between the evidence and the present. It is the gap between the evidence and the events described by that evidence. This was pretty much settled when the Dead Sea Scrolls were uncovered in 1946. It is commonly accepted that they had remained sealed in those caves since AD 68. The compelling factor here is that they did not significantly differ from the Bible that had been passed down the generations by scholars.
Aside from the Dead Sea Scrolls, another point to note here is that if, as some claim, the Bible had been written much later, it is reasonable to assume that the writings that make up the New Testament would have contained reference to the fall of Jerusalem to the Romans in AD 70. The documents we have do not reference that event. This strongly suggests that some of the original disciples and their successors were still alive when the New Testament was completed.
By comparison, the copies of Julius Caesar’s Gallic Wars, written 900 years after he lived, are much more questionable in terms of their historicity, as are the copies of the annals of Alexander the Great, written
1400 years after his death.
There are also extra-biblical references to Christianity and the events described in the Gospels in other historical documents – some even written by people who were opposed to the Christian faith. Too numerous to list here, but well represented in Josh McDowell’s Evidence That Demands a Verdict, or Lee Strobel’s The Case for Christ.
I have found that many people today simply parrot this one without having ever investigated it for themselves.
Finally, there is one other thing I would ask you to consider. Careful investigation of the Bible compared with other religious texts presents us with one stark difference. The Bible, in laying out the history of it’s protagonists, never attempts to hide things they did that were objectionable. Cain killed Abel, Noah got drunk, Moses got angry, David committed adultery, Amnon raped his sister, and worse events besides these are laid out within it’s pages. If Christianity really was the big con some people like to claim, surely it would have been better to cover up such things so as not to dissuade anyone. But the Bible doesn’t make it so easy for us. It even tells us that it’s words will cause some people to stumble, and who will subsequently be unable to accept the truth within it. Not exactly the world’s best marketing.
Essentially, the Bible’s only selling point, if it has one, is that it does tell the truth, the bald-faced, messy truth of human existence and the evil we inflict upon one another. This brings us back to the argument above regarding why God allowed such awful things to happen. You only know about those things because the Bible does not hide them. In this manner it is not a self-serving book, but presents all of the facts objectively and without bias, and challenges the reader to work through the issues.
I hope you will accept that challenge.