The MU SASHA Blog

The official blog of University of Missouri Skeptics, Atheists, Secular Humanists, & Agnostics

Some pressing questions…

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Today’s article is a guest post by Brandon Christen of the Secular Student Alliance at the University of Central Missouri.

Well, the other I got into some great conversations with some Christians friends and acquaintances. I’m actually working on a much longer post concerning something one of them said concerning knowledge, as well as my response to it, but that one may take a bit. In the meantime, I thought I’d relate something else that happened at the table that evening.

When the table was discussing general questions they’d have for God, were he available to take any, one young man spoke up and said something to the effect of “I’d like to know why the Bible only says the Earth is around 6,000 years old, when we actually know it’s around 4.5 billion years old.”

There were several answers proffered up from the other people at the table as each person interpreted his question in a somewhat different way.

When it came to me, the token Atheist at the table, I looked at the young man and I said “You know, I’ve got something I want you to think about. It won’t answer your question outright, but I hope it’ll get you to start asking more questions. Hard questions.” He nodded his head in approval, and I continued.

“You’re right to be curious as to why God, who is supposed to be all knowing, didn’t clue anyone in on the age of the Earth; why he didn’t just tell it to us to start with. He could have easily told whoever he was having write Genesis to include a verse saying ‘The earth is 4.5 billion years old, give or take several million,’ and the person writing would have copied it down, if we are to believe in divine inspiration. It would have been that easy. Right?”

He nodded. I continued…

“But he didn’t. Doesn’t that strike you as odd? I mean, if God knew that eventually mankind would become highly skeptical of the Bible, he could have easily loaded it with super-accurate scientific facts and predictions. The precise age of the earth would have been a good, logical starting point. Just think about how many more souls would believe in the Bible this very day if God had filled it with astoundingly accurate facts like that; facts whose presence would actually lend credibility to the idea that the whole book was divinely inspired. Now, why do you think God didn’t do that? Think on it.”

The young man said he would, and that was that. He remained quiet and looked very thoughtful for the rest of the evening.

Now, I know I’m not breaking new ground with my rhetorical question to that young man, and I don’t pretend to be. Many people have, for a very long time (and more eloquently than myself), argued that if God were real we could rationally expect him to have included some genuine predictions and insightful facts instead of vagaries and allusions. However, the young man’s response tells me that that maybe it’s not something we’re still (as a movement) pointing out often enough.

Why didn’t God include a message warning us about either world war?
Why didn’t God clue us in on the 2004 tsunami?
Come to think of it, why didn’t God clue us in on any major tsunamis, earthquakes, or hurricanes?
Why didn’t God show us how to more effectively combat cancer?
Why didn’t God show us how to treat AIDS?
Why didn’t God teach us about antidepressants?
Why didn’t God give us some guidance on how to handle the current tensions mounting in the Middle East?
Why didn’t God at least give us fuckin’ Aspirin!?!?!?

This list is by no means exhaustive.

To any Theistic friends who may read this, do you think these are silly questions? Think again. They’re simple, yes, but they do raise the important underlying question of why God, if he so desperately wanted us to know him, gave us so few clear-cut, decisive facts to prove he was there and that he cared.

Also, I don’t want to hear lame responses like “Oh, he did tell us. You just have to have more faith and/or read the Bible more carefully.” If God is truly all-knowing and all-powerful, then he could have easily explicitly written out warnings for all the problems I mentioned, plus many more, in ways that no rational person could fail to understand.

As a Skeptic, I value good information. It’s rare to come by, but once found it can help illuminate a whole host of issues. If God really wanted my attention, and the attention of millions of other Skeptical souls he supposedly loves, he could easily have put some clear-cut facts and predictions in the Bible for us to read.

Those clear-cut facts and predictions are missing, and thus so is a god worth caring about.

SASHA blog guest contributor Brandon Christen, a former Church of Christ preacher-turned-atheist, was born and raised in Missouri. He grew up in a religious family, and joined a far-right conservative church when he was a senior in college. For almost six years, the church dominated all facets of his life and thinking until, in early 2010, he began to openly question its steadfast rejection of science and philosophy. After a protracted struggle with his convictions, Brandon became an atheist in September of that year. These days Brandon remains intensely interested in religion, focusing on religious versus secular moral and ethical issues. Brandon frequently engages in conversations with as many religious individuals as he can in a “grass roots” effort to spread awareness about secular morality. He also acts as a strong voice in the Secular Student Alliance at the University of Central Missouri. While he sees debunking religious falsehoods as important, Brandon’s ultimate focus is on becoming a professional philosopher and emphasizing in ethics so as to lend his voice to the attempt to heal the moral divide between believers and non-believers. 

Helpful resources:

Godisimaginary.com
Iron Chariots Wiki
Skeptics’ Annotated Bible / Skeptics’ Annotated Qur’an
AtheismResource.com
TalkOrigins.org

YouTubers: Evid3nc3Thunderf00tTheAmazingAtheistThe Atheist ExperienceEdward CurrentNonStampCollectorMr. DeityRichard DawkinsQualiaSoup

Blogs: Greta ChristinaPZ MyersThe Friendly AtheistWWJTD?Debunking ChristianitySkepChick

and don’t forget… other SASHA members! We are here for you, too!

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About delightfullydoubtful

I'm a former preacher turned staunch Atheist. For a while, I dabbled in the cliche mindset that, with the realization that there was no afterlife or judgment, I was free to focus solely on money, sex, and worldly pleasure. However, that lifestyle was found to be woefully inadequate for this one-in-eternity shot at living, so I quickly moved on. For a while, I took up the banner of evangelical Atheism; deciding that the best way to serve my fellow man was to convince everyone I could to abandon religious faith. To that end, I frantically began trying to read up on my philosophy and science so as to have the most damning anti-theism arguments possible... However, I quickly found that line of approach to life wasn't very fulfilling either. Don't misunderstand me; I do honestly think that religion and spirituality (in the esoteric, religious sense) are both more harmful than good, and I think that mankind would do itself a huge favor if it threw off the fetters of supernaturalism once and for all. However, I realize that it is a fools errand to tell someone you are going to change their mind against so virulent and powerful a meme as religion. Ergo, I asked myself "What can someone who's eager, has a love for philosophy, science, and debate do to play their own small part in the theism/atheism issue?" My answer was simple: ethics. I think that ethics is the biggest battleground of the secular/religious culture war. Sure, the tenets of the two big religions include a need to focus on eternity, but to be honest most folks who believe in God simple despise Atheists for the false perspective that an Atheistic society would be one without ethics or morality. This simply isn't true; there have been many morally minded Atheists and there exist now many very ethical Atheists. In fact, I see ethics and Atheism as being interwoven; a thought I'll hopefully be exploring more on this blog. By no means am I an expert...yet. I don't pretend to be. I do, however, desire to be an expert on ethics someday, and I'm actively working towards it whenever I have the time. This blog is to be my own venting ground and training ground, of sorts, where I can put what I'm thinking into text and review it myself. I don't think anyone will ever come here and read my writings, but that's okay by me.

One comment on “Some pressing questions…

  1. Dylan
    February 10, 2012

    Greetings Brandon,
    Nice job on this post…it’s a vastly important dialogue and I’m glad it’s still being emphasized here and there. Most of the issues and questions you presented cause me to want to ask you a couple of questions of my own: If the God of the Bible does exist, why would you demand that he reason like you or I and employ the same type of logic in making decisions that you or I would? If God exists, would it not be incredibly ridiculous to conclude that God should cater to our logic and ways of comprehending things?

    Despite our best efforts to avoid it, we always seem to resort to conceptualizing “God” in ways that suit our purposes. Why should God (if he exists) be conformed to what you or I would prefer him to be?

    “if God knew that eventually mankind would become highly skeptical of the Bible, he could have easily loaded it with super-accurate scientific facts and predictions. The precise age of the earth would have been a good, logical starting point. Just think about how many more souls would believe in the Bible this very day…”

    This is a textbook example of the sort of conceptualizing I mentioned above. In viewing the Bible as a source of evidence, you’re looking at it with the expectation that God, who wants everyone to believe, would make it abundantly clear in every way that he exists. Regardless of your reason for expecting this, the fact that it goes unmet basically indicates one of two possibilities: either God does not exist, or God does not feel the need to meet this expectation.

    Your expectations regarding the “why didn’t God” questions also reflect this conceptualization. Perhaps it could be helpful at times to look at the Bible in a way similar to how you might approach a mathematics textbook. In a math lesson, there are principles and formulas to be understood and practiced. The objective of the lesson is to prepare you with everything you would need to solve a particular problem in the future, without giving you the specific problem or the answer to that problem ahead of time. Perhaps the Bible has been authored with much the same objective in mind. For instance, our neglect of proper diet and care for the land (both of which are mentioned to a significant degree in the Bible) are huge contributors to the proliferation of cancer in today’s society. As far as AIDS, sexual promiscuity (also abundantly mentioned in the Bible) continues to be the No. 1 contributor to the proliferation of the AIDS virus. As far as antidepressants, I don’t know how it could be any more clear from the Bible that the Spirit of God is the ultimate antidepressant (of course, what the Spirit is and how you get it may not be as clear to someone). In terms of handling tensions in the Middle East, one might try “turning the other cheek”; and when asked for his cloak, one might give also his tunic. Perhaps God has revealed only just enough evidence concerning his existence throughout history so that men might truly seek after him.

    In any case, these examples are also more or less derived from my own conceptualization of God. As hard as I try to simply understand what the Bible is saying objectively, I also am prone to expecting something from it or from God. We can’t escape that reality. When we understand this, I think we can really begin to ask each other the right questions.

    Hoping this adds something beneficial to your dialogue,
    Dylan

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This entry was posted on January 25, 2012 by in Author: Brandon Christen.
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