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.
The selection of the gospels to be included in the Bible was made by a council of Christian bishops convened in Nicea in Bithynia by the Roman Emperor Constantine I in AD 325. At this council, four gospels were selected from a total of approximately 60 that were in use at the time….
The other 56 or so gospels that were discarded do not agree for the most part with the four that were selected. Examples are the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Judas, the Gospel of Peter, the Gospel of the Nazarenes, the Gospel of the Ebionites, and the Gospel of the Hebrews.
[W]hat should be troubling to a questioning believer is that the council undoubtedly preferentially selected the gospels that were favorable to the Romans (i.e., the ones that made them look good) and excluded whatever did not flatter them. It is certain that this process resulted in a whitewashed portrayal of history.
Do you know how to answer this one? How were the Gospels selected (and what reasons do you have for thinking so)? Answer this challenge in the comments below, and then come back here on Thursday to hear Brett’s response.
The Bible suggests that Jesus rose from the dead and made appearances to hundreds of people before ascending into heaven. It is unlikely that this would have escaped the notice of Herod and Pilate and the vast majority of the Roman occupiers, not to mention the Jews, who would have either directly witnessed this amazing phenomenon or heard about it from credible sources. This would have provided proof that Jesus was a divine being, prompting Herod and Pilate to convert along with the Romans and the Jews, with Christianity then becoming the official religion of Judea.
Obviously, this did not happen, and the fact that it didn’t suggests strongly that Jesus did not rise from the dead.
How would you respond to this challenge? Perhaps answering this needs more of a knowledge of human nature than anything else! Give us your answer below, and Alan will post his answer on Thursday.
Here’s a challenge from an atheist who says Jesus’ baptism has three serious implications for our view of Jesus:
In the gospel of Matthew (3:11), Jesus presents himself to John the Baptist and is baptized. This presents several problems for Christianity. First, baptism is a ritual that claims to remove the stain of original sin, but according to Christian dogma, Jesus was sinless and therefore should not have required this rite.
Second, to present oneself for baptism is a subservient action, implying that the person performing the baptism is of a higher station, though, according to Christian theology, Jesus was certainly superior to John the Baptist.
Third, the scripture states that John the Baptist recognized Jesus as the promised savior, and yet, inexplicably, he does not become a follower of Jesus, but remains the leader of his own group of followers.
This is an embarrassment to the faith because if this event has any historical validity, it is apparent that Jesus considered himself a sinful mortal man needing baptism and was probably a disciple of John the Baptist. He likely followed him for awhile, and only became an independent religious leader after John’s arrest and execution.
You’ll need some knowledge of the Bible and theology for this one. Tell us how you would answer this challenge in the comments below, and come back here on Thursday to hear Brett give his answer.
This atheist thinks you’re committing a “logical and hypocritical fallacy” by believing Christian miracles and rejecting the miracles of other religions:
Christians accept without reservation that the miracles described in the Bible were actual historical events. However, at the same time they discount the miracle stories of other religions, such as:
Mohammed’s night journey to Jerusalem and then to heaven
Mohammed splitting of the moon
Mohammed’s food and water multiplication
The spider web protecting Mohammed in the cave….
What should be evident to an objective person is that the evidence for the Christian miracles is no more convincing than the evidence for non-Christian miracles. To selectively believe one religion’s miracles while discounting all of the others is a logical and hypocritical fallacy. It is highly unlikely that all of the world’s proclaimed miracles are true, still unlikely that the miracles of one religion are true and the others false, but otherwise it is very likely that they are all false.
How would you answer this objection? Give it a try in the comments below, and we’ll hear Alan’s answer on Thursday.