Answers to Questions for Theists

Over at his blog (http://maasaiboys.wordpress.com/) makagutu has posted some questions for theists(http://maasaiboys.wordpress.com/2014/07/17/questions-for-theists/).

 

I thought it would be an interesting exercise to consider the questions as I might have in my Christian days. So, over lunch yesterday I discussed the questions with my wife (who is still a Christian) and below is a summary of how we assessed the questions.

Some of the questions are long, so you’ll need to go over there to see the questions, I’ll write just the answers we discussed.

 

  1. It’s not specifically about the eating of the fruit. It’s the disobedience and rebellion that the act signified. The warning had already been given so the response should not be a surprise. The sacrifice element is a very long theological answer.
  2. It’s not about God not being clear, it’s about man injecting his own bias and interpretation over the years. The result is less than perfection.
    • As an atheist, I find this answer wholly unsatisfying, yet I don’t see how a theist can offer much improvement on the answer.
  3. No one can know the answer to this one and any answer would be a pure guess on what God actually did. Also, no valid conclusions could come from whatever guess a theists decided to give. The only honest answer is “I don’t know”.
    • As an atheist I don’t consider this a good question because there is no answer and therefore there is no comeback. It might lead to some interesting postulating but there is no serious dialog that this question can promote.
  4. This one actually made me laugh. It basically hits the free will argument, which is at the very centre of Christian theology. God didn’t do it out of predestined confusion; he did it to give us a chance.
  5. Short answer: “No one can know the mind of God.” The answer to 4 extends into this one, but it also touches on a very real challenge, why did God do it the way he did?
    • As an atheist, I think this question shows exactly how tortuous the route to salvation is and how uncritically Christians accept it.
  6. How very true. The bible also records that Jesus had his own credibility issues at the time. Just because someone appears to be out of touch, different, or even irrelevant, does that mean they are automatically wrong?
  7. I’m not and never was so cannot possibly answer. I would suggest that the heavenly language is unlikely to be any language of earth, we’d somehow just ‘know’ how to communicate with each other.
  8. The unique selling point of Christianity is salvation through grace. It is this that makes it the one true path to god.
    • As an atheist I do not find this at all convincing. The only answer to “they can’t all be right” is that none of them are right. Each will have its own unique selling point and the USP answer isn’t particularly good.
  9. My wife conceded that this was a very challenging question and possibly the one which demonstrated the biggest flaws in religion as a whole. We couldn’t come up with a satisfactory answer.
  10. This is another question that seeks to predict the mind of God and frame it so he is self-contradictory. No one can answer what God’s motives were so the question is impossible to answer and therefore no conclusions can come from it. Better questions are needed.
  11. This is clearly a reference to the bible saying the God hardened pharaoh’s heart so that he would not set the Israelites free. The English phrasing is a problem and the preferred reading is that god allowed it to happen rather than actively made it to happen. Either way, it’s a difficult passage with no easy answer. We didn’t try to invent one.
  12. Similar answer to 11.

 

So there you have it, some good questions, some not so good questions; some good answers, some not so good answers. The exercise was an interesting 30 minutes for my wife and I, but ultimately it didn’t change the basic position of either of us.

 

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13 thoughts on “Answers to Questions for Theists

  1. Hey,
    Thanks for taking to respond to the many questions. I will do some justice to your responses once I get to my computer.
    have a pleasant sunday

  2. #1. I don’t think they can be rightly accused of disobedience. If disobedience is considered, bad, they didn’t know until after eating the fruit, for they ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. I would like to hear the short of the theological answer to the vicarious redemption.

    #2. The question of bias doesn’t answer as to why god could not be clear. A manufacturer writes on the box, this side up, there can be no biases. It is not open to interpretation. An all wise god should have seen this.

    #3. You raise the issue about the question not being a good one. I don’t think that is the case. The believer holds it that Jesus was born of a virgin with no male involvement. How then can they insist he was a man, that is, if he was?

    #4. Am glad you could laugh. To give us a chance to fail so he could have men burn in hell for endless time. How smart!

    #5. That answer makes discussion impossible.

    #6. Not necessarily. But why should we take a 2000 year old testimony seriously while we reject others? Why the bias?

    #7. No contest, except I don’t think there is heaven.

    #8. I disagree that the selling point of christianity is salvation through grace. They create a problem and tell you they got the solution. How very clever!

    #9. Fair enough. I like her.

    #10. Once the theist has described what she thinks god is, then I think it is all fair game. Am not the one defining god here, theists have offered those characteristics. I think the question is valid.

    #11. You are honest people.

    #12. Same as above.

    Am glad you could discuss them with your lady and share your answers with us. It is really not about changing positions/ opinions but having a discussion on the issues that I think is important. Maybe it could make you religious, who knows 😀

  3. 9. Why aren’t Catholics born to Muslim parents if we are born religious?

    That’s not even a serious question.

    • If your god was real and able to communicate with us mortals. Don’t you think that there would be a significant proportion of people from other cultures who would receive some sort of enlightenment and convert?

  4. Conversion isn’t dependent just on what people ‘know’ (enlightenment) but on if they are willing to turn from exalting their own understanding against the knowledge of God and submit to God. Lots of people who refuse to believe actually do ‘know’ but they want to run their own lives and call their own shots. That’s why a child can convert because it really isn’t that dependent on how much someone ‘knows’.

    • I am a little lost on your logic Tim. The question seems to be showing a weakness in presuppositional apologetics in that if it’s true we would expect evidence to show that. But we don’t see the converts that would be expected.

  5. This is almost completely off topic, but I couldn’t find a place on your blog to send you a message, so I apologize in advance for making your comment section skewed. You mention several times that you and your wife have conversations on faith. I would dearly love some insight on these conversations, because I (the atheist) only found out my husband’s church was creationist AFTER he’d already been a few years attached to the congregation and my son came home one Sunday last year with a coloring sheet that had a dinosaur coming off of the ark. I seriously thought creationism was a punch line, to be laughed at like the flat-earthers we learned about in history. No one really believes those silly things, right? It’s okay to send the kids to sunday school. What could possibly go wrong? Ugh.

    We now fight constantly about our young kids’ (4 and 14 months) exposure to religion. I want to compromise and try to find another church with him, one that is still engaging and exciting for him that won’t teach the kids creationism, but his only response is that I should “just come to church with him sometime.” (I went once. I didn’t like it.) Like I’m going to suddenly convert and not give two shits about what they’re teaching the kids?

    He feels attacked, and I get that. I told him I like the people in his church and I’m not asking him to not be friends with them anymore, I just don’t like what they teach the kids. He hears none of it. Do you have any advice as a former YEC on what I can possibly say to him? Or what kind of nutty mediator would take on such a dispute? The whole situation is exhausting.

    • Hi Sarah,

      Thank you for your comment and questions. It’s not an easy road and I am still learning that myself. I’ll come up with something and make a post. If you’d rather I reply privately let me know. I am sure there are readers who also have insights that are valuable though.

  6. Pingback: I get some questions | Confessions Of A YEC

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