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