Tag Archives: Reason

Can Christian Faith Ever be Rational?

VJack over at Atheist Revolution recently asked, “Could one arrive at Christianity through rational means?

That actually depends on how you define Christianity.

The select few who call themselves Christians without subscribing to core modern Christian beliefs (the divinity of Jesus, virgin birth, triune God-head, vicarious redemption), taking the Bible as a collection of myths and advice, could have be Christians for rational reasons. Following the Jesus character’s advice regarding how to treat one’s neighbor is a worthy goal. I don’t see any reason why this “Christianity” would be necessarily irrational.

However, anyone who believes in the same God most Christians do — a miracle-working slacker who loves and damns everyone — has a logically impossible belief-set. Heck, I used those core beliefs to prove such a god would be evil. None of it makes any sense. That kind of religion can never be rational.

Proof the Christian God is Evil

You know those ridiculously sensationalist headlines that promise the world and don’t deliver? Post titles that make a claim, but end it in question marks so as to deny all liability?

This isn’t one of those posts.

Proving God is Evil

First we have to define our terms.

Definitions

God

The triune god-head of mainline Christianity including Catholicism and most or all Protestant religions, consisting of Jesus (who is God), God the Father, and the Holy Spirit (who is also God). This God is revealed in the Bible to be un-changing. See: Numbers 23:19; 1 Samuel 15:29; Psalms 102:26; Malachi 3:6; 2 Timothy 2:13; Hebrews 6:17,18; and James 1:17. For example:

Malachi 3:6 – “For I am the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.”

God, in one manner or another, created the entire Universe, as implied by Genesis 1 (or described by it, if you take it literally).

God does not ever lie.

Numbers 23:19 – “God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent.”

This God is also all-powerful or omnipotent. The most cited verse is Matthew 19:26: “With God all things are possible.” We concede that logical impossibilities are not possible for God (e.g. making a rock so big he cannot move it), though since God created everything, including logic, that’s a debate for another day.

Lastly, God is all-knowing or omniscient. This is proclaimed in Deuteronomy 29:29 and elsewhere. We take this to mean he knows the past, present, and future, and furthermore knows the results of all his decisions before he makes them. (We ignore the likely truth that someone can not be both omniscient and omnipotent because they would not be able to change their future mind.)

The Bible

The collection of writings Christians call the Bible. King James, NIV, Catholic? doesn’t really matter for our purposes. We shall take it mostly literally, except for parables and much of Genesis; this is what most Christian religions do. We also assume this is God’s primary or only means of reliable communication with humankind (ignoring forgeries and legitimate Bible scholars, not to mention intra-Biblical contradictions).

I am teasing you with definitions before the proof. But a definition of terms is important. The next one is perhaps more interesting, so bear with me.

Good

Doing unto another as one would have the other do to them. This, the “Golden Rule,” is widely held as Jesus’ most important teaching. It can be found in Matthew 7:12 and Luke 6:31.

Evil

Knowingly doing the opposite of good.

Sin

Evil acts.

Humankind

Sinners. Taken as a the most basic tenet of Christianity, Jesus’ supposed sacrifice makes no sense otherwise.

You can’t wait, can you? On to the good stuff.

Proof, version 1

  1. God created everything (given).

  2. God created humankind (by 1).

  3. Humankind is composed of sinners (given).

  4. Sinners create evil (given).

  5. Humankind creates evil (by 3 and 4).

  6. God created evil (by 2 and 5).

  7. God knew the consequences of creating everything, including humans, before he did it (given).

  8. God knew he was creating evil (by 5 and 6).

  9. Thus, God sinned, himself, by definition, as a sinner knowingly commits evil acts.

I dare you to find a hole in that logic, given those definitions.

You want more? Okay. But let’s define another term or two.

More Definitions

Free Will

The ability to choose between two or more options. This does NOT mean omnipotence.

Conscious Beings

Entities that have at least the illusion of free will. This includes humans.

Proof (version 2)

  1. If I were to create a universe and conscious beings, I would create a universe where they cannot hurt each other.

  2. In fact, I wish all humans had free will but could not hurt each other.

  3. It is not logically impossible for conscious beings to have free will without being able to hurt each other. Proof by contradiction / counter-example:

    • Assume free will requires the ability to hurt other conscious beings.
    • Universe X is populated by beings whose only choice is to appear green or purple to observers. This does not inhibit others’ choices or harm them.
    • (Implied: Universe X denizens have no language, as communication involves choice of a message.)
    • Universe X denizens have free will, because they can make a choice; omnipotence is neither required nor granted.
    • This is a counter-example to our initial assumption.
    • Thus, free will does not require the ability to hurt other beings.
  4. God did not do unto me as I would have done to another conscious being.

  5. God defined evil through the Bible (from given).

  6. God did evil according to his own definition.

  7. Thus, God is evil.

I like this second proof a lot, though it did require a sub-proof. I double-dare you to poke a hole in this one, too!

Well, that was easy.

I hope you enjoyed these proofs as much as I did. For more, see this eloquent rebuttal of an apologist (which the apologist attempts to rebut, but has nothing solid to contribute); it illustrates how an omniscient God is necessarily evil. That “problem” is called theodicy. You may also be interested in this wonderful article on God’s immutability.

What’s that? The soft sound of Christian readers not being swayed? “Well, this post must be wrong, because of course God can’t be evil. He is benevolent!” they think. Yet they ignore the alternative: that He does not exist at all.

Much love,

Mr. Atheist

Science and Religion, part 1

Can we ever really know anything?

That is a question I hope to answer in a longer blog post. For now, let’s rephrase the question: “What is a better way to know things? From science or religion?”

Well, given that

  1. The foundation of all religions is faith, and
  2. Faith means something is not scientifically proven, or even logically impossible, yet taken to be true (“believed”) regardless, and
  3. Since no religion has been scientifically proven to be true (that is, they are all taken on faith), then
  4. Any religion is equally valid, so
  5. Take Christianity (defined such that the Bible is taken to be true) for example, which is perfectly valid with faith as our only guide, and then
  6. Consider the many, many places the Bible has been shown to be incorrect.

Thus, faith leads to incorrect conclusions. Science could basically win by default, but to be fair, it needs examined as well. I am not going to do that now, though. Since you are reading this online, I assume you have already conceded that science works.

Diversity of Religion & “Other Religions are Corrupted” Response

The vast numbers of different religions and denominations (parodied here) in the world is possibly the strongest reason to deny any and all religions with any sort of interventionist, personal, or judgment-dealing God.

Deluded Christians and Muslims commonly skirt this accusation by rationalizing that other religions are corrupted by man or “the devil.” However, there is a terrific atheist response to this claim.

A Conversation

Atheist: “Can you explain the diversity of religion in the world?”

Theist: “The devil has caused corruption of the true religion.”

Atheist: “Then I have two challenges for you.

“One: How do you know your religion is correct? Couldn’t it be corrupted in the same way as you claim countless other peoples’ religion is corrupted? Don’t other believers of other religions have the same response to this question that you do?

“Two: Christians, Jews and Muslims pray to the same god, the Abraham’s god Yahweh. If God answers prayer or guides human understanding in any way, should we not expect God to consistently guide understanding for all these earnest believers, resulting in a mass conversion to the ‘correct’ religion and even denomination?”

This is the response that is so very strong. At this point there is nothing the theist apologist can say that holds up to reason without contradicting basic tenets of their religion. For example, saying that God does not actually shape human understanding is to deny all authority of the Pope, pastors, rabbis, imams, and ayatollahs and is more of a deist belief than a theist one; it also contradicts the idea that God plants faith in the hearts/minds of humans, which leads us to science and atheism. No matter the response, it is impossible for a God who is all-loving and all-powerful who cares about orthodoxy (right belief) to ignore the earnest prayers from confused beliefs whose “corrupted beliefs” may earn for them eternal damnation. It may also be pointed out that the theist will rationalize a response to fit the facts everyone knows are true about the variation of belief, despite the way their own beliefs should predict that most of the world (if not all) would have the same religious beliefs they do!

Personal anecdote

The day I came to terms with my budding atheism was the day I voiced my doubts of Christianity to a professor, asking for a bit of guidance. I will never forget the professor’s response. He said something to the effect of, “We should not worry too much about believing the right thing. People have so many different religious beliefs that, if there is a God, He is almost certainly nothing like what you have been told.”

Perhaps the argument discussed in this article is not so strong for everyone, but I found it extremely convincing.

Let me know what you think.