Questions Christians Can't Comfortably Answer

TheHonestAtheistNovember 1, 2017

I've met my fair share of Christians over the years, and in my humble experience, most of these questions would stump most Christians. This is not to say they could not be answered by the seasoned theologian, but some of them cannot be answered comfortably. In other words, one either has to give up some part of his or her humanity to honestly answer the question, or actually believe that God is a moral monster and worship and serve him anyway.

I would advise against using these questions in a debate, public forum, or online as an ultimatum. These questions are better reserved for getting the Christian to think about why they believe what they believe, with the hope that they will reject Christianity and its monstrous god.

Euthyphro Dilemma

In a dialogue by Plato, Socrates questions his student Euthyphro about the piety of the Greek gods, posed as such:

Is the pious loved by the gods because it is pious, or is it pious because it is loved by the gods?

The question for theists runs like this:

Is what is morally good commanded by god because it is morally good, or is it morally good because it is commanded by god?

This has been a thorn in the side of theism for ever so long because the philosophical answer is not satisfactorily there. To answer and say that something is morally good because god has commanded it as such means god has arbitrarily picked an action as good and could have picked murder or rape as the moral thing. To answer and say that morality just is and god commanded it, means there is a morality apart from god and the morality is separate from god.

Read more and expansion on the answers here

Biblical Moral Guidelines for Slavery and Rape

This chestnut is posited like this:

Using the Bible as your sole moral guideline, is slavery or rape wrong?

Surprisingly, this is hard to answer. A normal everyday thinking individual would have no trouble saying that slavery or rape is wrong (provided they have the ability to empathize). A Christian, however, cannot rely solely on the Bible to answer this question. This is one problem with the current Christian church. They say they have all the answers in the Bible for everyday life--that everything in the Bible is God's words, and that the Bible is one hundred percent accurate--but face to face with this question, the Christian must rely on outside means. The Christian is cherry-picking the Bible!

The passages that could cover rape (Deuteronomy 22:13-29) do not cover marital rape. In addition, though it makes mention of putting to death a rapist of a betrothed maiden, in the case of rape for a virgin who is unbetrothed, the rapist would be fined and forced to marry the girl. I'm not sure how anyone can actually stomach this.

As for the discussion of slavery and the Bible's passive condoning, please read my previous post:

Origin of Sin

When I was a Christian, I was also a Calvinist (this means I held certain theology, particularly Total depravity, Unconditional election, Limited atonement, Irresistible grace, and Perseverance of the saints; all these are known as "TULIP") and believed the origin of sin was God himself, a rather atypical view. Some might regard this as blasphemous, but I remember researching it thoroughly and finding the idea compelling.

Nonetheless, my past view is not mainstream. Most Christians describe sin as an absence of God, but this creates more problems than answers. For one, God is omnipresent (everywhere) and therefore, the absence of God is a slippery notion. Also, just saying that sin is the absence of God doesn't detail its origins. Some theologians propose that Satan's original rebellion is the origin of sin, but God also created Satan as one of his angels, so the problem is only postponed.

Some contribute the origin of sin to Adam, which suffers the same as Satan as author, it only postpones the question. In other words, if God authored Satan/Adam, and Satan/Adam authored sin, then God has some share of the blame--if not the bulk of it. It is easy to argue against this by saying that if a scientist created a monster by accident, the scientist should not be held responsible, but this analogy falls apart. In the context of God, he is a scientist with complete control over his universe and creation (omnipotence). He must be accountable because he has the ability to terminate it.

It seems most logical that God was the author of sin, thus creating creatures that would sin against him and yet he holds them accountable for that sin. Either God is a sadist and enjoys punishing people for the sin he made, or he set us up to fail.

Temptation of God

This surrounds two competing Scriptures that I always found tough to tackle, James 1:13 and Matthew 4:1-11:

Can God be tempted? If yes, how do you explain the passage in James 1:13? If no, was Jesus' life, death and resurrection just a gesture of how to live a godly life, as he really didn't have any temptation/resistance to following God?

Christ Condemned to Hell

Again, this references two competing Scriptures:

Jesus said that those who call their father or mother a "fool" are condemned to Hell, and yet he called the Pharisees "fools"; is Christ also condemned to Hell?

Faith, Reliable as a Means to Truth

This requires a little more digging. Ask the Christian what the definition of faith is, in plain English. I've met Christians who just recite the verse from Hebrews that says "faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the essence of things not yet seen," which is meaningless to me as a definition.

Eventually when you have developed a definition, ask:

Is faith a reliable pathway to truth (that which corresponds to reality), and if so, could you use faith to believe anything?

Credit goes to The Atheist Experience for this one. Many a caller has given reason for their belief as reliance on faith, yet, when challenged on what faith means and how they carry it out, their faith means nothing. Faith is believing in something without evidence. As soon as you have reason to believe in something, that becomes the reason, not faith.

Age of Accountability

For those unfamiliar, Christians have theorized a loophole in faith for hard questions like: "If your newborn child dies without ever hearing the gospel, do they go to Hell?" by inserting the idea of an "age of accountability". The age of accountability for Christians is not a number but some arbitrary age that God would know that a person can understand and respond to the gospel. At this age they are held accountable for their sins and must either accept or reject the gospel. If that person dies before reaching the age of accountability, they enter Heaven for free.

So, if the Christian believes this theology (I believe most do), then this next question is scary for it's proposed solution:

If you knew your child would grow up to hate and turn away from God, setting them on a pathway to Hell, would it be better for you to murder them before they reach the age of accountability, even if it means you are condemned to Hell?

I fail to see how this would not make a Christian parent seriously think about their belief. Any normal, sane person with an ounce of integrity would never think to murder their child, but this scenario makes it almost morally right for the Christian to murder their child. Important note, parents have been arrested who have done just this, defending their dreadful act that it meant the greater good for their children.

Serious Considerations

One question that is especially useful when in discussion with the elderly and young Christians is this:

How seriously have you considered the truth claims of Christianity in comparison to other religions? Why do you believe Christianity as compared to any other religion?

A common refrain from Christians is that atheists can't know that there is no god, which the easy reply from the atheist is "of course, we can't; it just makes sense to reject them." This may seem a hasty decision from the Christian's viewpoint, but generally speaking, in my experience, atheists have given more consideration to the truth claims of religions than most religious individuals. One of the utmost priorities of mainstream atheists is the search for truth, and you don't happen upon the truth by accepting the first religion to cross your desk. Most Christians are Christians because they were raised that way, just like most Muslims are Muslims because they were raised that way. Most atheists are atheists because they rejected the religion in which they were raised in favor of that which could be confirmed.

Final Thoughts

The goal with all these questions is not to make a fool of a Christian. I'd probably rarely ask them. They need to be asked with the intent to reason with and truly learn from the Christian's answer. If the goal was to only stump and make fun of the Christian, I hope you fail in your attempt.

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