Hitler sent Jews to the concentration camps and gas chambers for no reason other than their ethnic identity. This was a temporal punishment; it sometimes lasted only a few days. God, on the other hand, is prepared to send good, well-accomplished, and generous people to a place of everlasting punishment and torture for the crime of not believing in something for which no credible evidence exists. The God of the Bible is, in effect, worse than Hitler.
I can see three distinct ideas that need to be responded to in this challenge. Can you identify them? Tell us what they are and how you would respond to them in the comments below, and see Brett’s video response to this challenge on Thursday.
Most Christians believe that Jesus was a unique figure in his time, a one-of-kind preacher who mesmerized followers with his wisdom and magical acts. This is not true. There were many messiahs at this time including Hezekiah the bandit, Simon of Peraea, Athronges the shepherd boy, and Judas the Galilean. In addition, there were many other preachers and prophets who were gathering followers and preaching a messianic message about the coming of the Kingdom of God. Some advocated a violent overthrow of the Roman occupiers as a prelude to the coming. Others stressed a less violent approach including repentance, prayers, and beseeching of God for deliverance. Added to this list is the most popular preacher of all, John the Baptist. Jesus was possibly a follower of John until John’s arrest and execution (as exemplified by the subservient act of submitting himself for baptism), and then he may have assumed leadership of John’s movement.
Jesus was just one of many itinerant preachers of his day, and there was nothing particularly unique about him, because all were preaching the same ideas, and almost all of them ended up being crucified for the crime of sedition against the Roman Empire. It is a historical fluke that Christians pray to Jesus instead of John or Simon or Hezekiah.
Is Christianity just a historical fluke, or was there something unique about Jesus and His history? How would you respond to this challenge? Answer in the comments below, and then come back on Thursday to see Alan’s video response.
[I]t insults our intelligence to be enjoined to believe, now that we have split the atom, discovered the Higgs Boson, and sent a probe to Pluto, in the veracity of a supernatural account of the origins of our cosmos.
What’s your response to this objection? Give us your ideas in the comments below, and we’ll hear Tim’s response on Thursday.
Here’s an objection to Christianity from an atheist:
Christianity credits what you believe far above what you do. This idea has caused much misery and suffering over the course of the past two millennia. The notion that what you believe can erase your bad deeds is a very attractive idea to someone who wants to take liberties with the lives and property of other people. If you believe that the threat of the death penalty is enough to dissuade people from breaking the law then you must acknowledge that the promise of unconditional forgiveness is enough to entice people to break the law. And this is exactly what happened during the scourges of the Inquisition and other atrocities committed by Christians.
How would you respond to him on this one? What questions would you ask? What ideas would you ask him to defend? Where is his reasoning shaky? What ideas about Christianity would you clarify?
Let us know what you think in the comments, and come back on Thursday to hear Alan’s response.