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Need Your Help!

September 15, 2009

Hey everyone,

As I just posted below, I’ll be speaking at the Jubilee conference in Pittsburgh in two different forums. The one I’ll be leading myself is called, “The Top Ten Questions that Intellectuals ask About Christianity (as seen on The Thomas Society Blog).

Yes, that’s right, you get to choose the questions. So, what do you think are the top ten questions at that Intellectuals ask about Christianity?

Thanks for the help.

Doubtfully,

J-

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22 Comments leave one →
  1. Matheus permalink
    September 15, 2009 5:24 pm

    The question is, why christianism? Being a christian requires that you are born from christian parents, or at least in a culture with significant christian influence. If you were born in india, you would be an hindu, and etc. So what happens to these people, do they suffer any punishment from that? If yes, then god is not just. If no, then why bother with christianism at all? If an exemption from hell is granted to these people, then by teaching them about christianism aren’t you potentially condemning to suffer? Wouldn’t then the most moral thing to do be to burn all the bibles and make everyone forget about it?

  2. thomas2026 permalink*
    September 15, 2009 7:09 pm

    Matheus,

    Would you mind refining this to one question? I think i see what you driving at, but as this is for a presentation, I need a little refinement.

  3. Matheus permalink
    September 15, 2009 8:04 pm

    Are persons who are not christians because they were brought up in different cultures punished after they die in any way?

    Then whatever they answer, you discuss the implications which I already cited above.

  4. ferret wrangler permalink
    September 15, 2009 11:18 pm

    Here are a few that come to mind:

    What supposedly makes christianity the ‘right’,’best’, or ‘only’ religion to follow?

    Why is following a religion even ‘required’?

    Why is there any question when someone chooses ‘none’? Why is there often open hostility against this choice?

    Why is there such a ‘false persecutuion’ complex, often acted out by fundamentalist sects, when they don’t agree with another religious view?

    Why is there such a divide about religious differences instead of working together with the similarities?

    Why the fear of learning about other religions?

  5. Richard Eis permalink
    September 16, 2009 5:26 am

    I could be amusingly cruel and ask which version of christianity is the correct one.

    But I think i would ask whether you need anything more than faith in order to be christian.

  6. Richard Eis permalink
    September 16, 2009 5:41 am

    Oh, how about “what can/should christians do about ‘corruption’ and lies from fundamentalists”.

    This is in reference to quite a few comments I have seen pointing out that loony fundamentalists have a supporting powerbase of other christians and without this they would just be marginalised crazies.

  7. Ms. Crazy Pants permalink
    September 16, 2009 11:47 am

    Oh, how about “what can/should christians do about ‘corruption’ and lies from fundamentalists”.

    I think that’s the perfect question to be asking. I second that question.

  8. Johann permalink
    September 16, 2009 1:50 pm

    I think that’s the perfect question to be asking. I second that question.

    Thirded. More and more relevant these days.

    Also, why does the universe appear to be thoroughly godless? We humans have a very strong track record of finding natural explanations and causes for things earlier thought to be of divine origin. There are some things which simply don’t happen, such as amputated limbs growing back, even though something like this would be both trivial to a god who can part the Red Sea. This doesn’t make much sense in the context of the interventionist god of the Bible, and the theological device of redefining him as non-interventionist seems like an admission that he at least appears not to exist.

    On a related note, the way many religions and flavors of Christianity in particular encourage confirmation bias and anti-intellectual attitudes (looking for miracles in everyday events, willfully ignoring evidence contrary to one’s own preconceptions, treating science as a hostile religion) and discourage critical thinking is actively harmful to the individual believers as well as to the state of our total knowledge. Do you also think this is a problem – and what, if anything, should be done about it?

  9. Shannon permalink
    September 16, 2009 1:59 pm

    I’m certain some of these have already been covered. Nonetheless:

    1) How do you know your holy book is the right one?

    2) Why do Christians excuse fundamentalists instead of condemning them? (as a parallel, we asked that question of Muslims after 9/11 – moderate Muslims seemed to lack a certain amount of outrage. Though there have been no obvious similar events in the states perpetrated by Christian fundamentalists, the minor acts of intolerance and bigotry remain – why are they not condemned?)

    3) In a ‘Christian Country’ – why are there the hungry, the homeless, the destitute and the unadopted children?

    4) Why do Christians force their morality and beliefs on others (a-la gay marriage) instead of confining their teachings to those who believe as they do? (Or, in other words – why is it not good enough to teach this in Church or Sunday School – why must it become a matter of public policy, despite the fact that our society is supposedly free of forced belief?)

    5) Why do Christians spend so much time trying to convert each other?

    6) Why can Christians not accept that there are those who do not believe as they do? (I, for one, don’t want the ten commandments in a courthouse, for instance. Religion has no place on the judge’s bench. The Star Chamber taught us that – why is that viewpoint not respected in public discourse?)

    7) Why is Christianity anti-Liberty?

    http://www.isil.org/resources/introduction.swf

    It agrees with it in principle – but its followers, in practice, see no problem with impinging on the liberty of others.

    8) Why do so many Christians carry guns?

    I do. I own several, and enjoy shooting – but is this not wholly antithetical to the mere idea of christianity?

    9) Why are so many Christians militant and unkind to those who do not share their beliefs?

    Isn’t evangelism best done by example?

    10) Why are churches exempt from taxes, and how is it that so many spend so much on such amazing facilities.. when in the same neighborhood, people go hungry?

    Is a million dollars (USD) better spent on a building.. or on people?

    … Just a few of my own burning questions.

  10. joe agnost permalink
    September 16, 2009 2:59 pm

    I forth the question posed above (“Oh, how about “what can/should christians do about ‘corruption’ and lies from fundamentalists”)

    I’d also add – why does the idea that we ~born~ with sin sensible? This seems to be the whole reason behind christianity (at least) and seems so ludicrous to me that am unborn baby is damned because adam ate an apple.

  11. joe agnost permalink
    September 16, 2009 3:01 pm

    Holy crazy grammar/sentence in that last post (by me!).

    Yikes!

    Let me re-phrase:

    Why is the idea that we’re all born with ‘original sin’ taken seriously? It seems to be the cornerstone of christianity and it doesn’t make sense to me.

  12. September 16, 2009 4:03 pm

    1) What is the ultimate answer to life, the universe, and everything?
    2) Why do we never expect the Spanish Inquisition?
    3) What is the airspeed of a laden swallow in flight?

    More seriously: How do we address the flaws of Christianity?
    I would cite Matheus’ question in the third post as an example of such a flaw: the exclusion or punishment of non-Christians who are perfectly “good” people in every respect. To me, this is simply wrong. That’s sort of a manged question. I’ll think on it and try again later.

    G

  13. Richard Eis permalink
    September 16, 2009 4:24 pm

    What do they think of the Flying Spaghetti Monster and what he represents. (A ridiculing of faith being based solely on belief and the ease of which belief and miracles can be created) Have they even heard of Pastafarians?

    What do christians really think of modern “miracles”? Healing waters of Lourdes, faith healing, shroud of turin etc…

    Do they believe in other Magicks? Witchcraft, voodoo etc..

  14. Roger permalink
    September 16, 2009 5:30 pm

    Ok, here’s the questions I’d like to see asked…

    1. Why do so many Christians think that because they believe, every one else should too.

    2. How can Christians (and more specifically catholics) support the proselytization (sp?) of Africa, with all the dogma that entails, when the rules about contraceptives lead to the spread of AIDS.

    3. How can so many Christians ignore hard evidence in favour of a book written almost 2,000 years ago – i.e. creationism vs evolution.

    4. Can Christians be sure they’re right, instead of Muslims, Hindus etc ?

    5. Why do so many different sects have such differing interpretations of Christianity ?

    6. Why do evangelist pastors etc need so much money ?

    7. If the rapture is definitely coming and is something to be looked forward too, should Christians who believe that be allowed access to weapons that can make the end of the world happen ?

    8. If Jesus were to rise again, would he really be pleased to see his followers wearing and worshiping at a model of the thing that was used to kill him ? (or, in otherwords, why the crucifix ?)

    9. Where are heaven and hell ?

    10. If God is so petty and egocentric as to damn me to eternity in hell for simply not believing in him, is he really worth worshipping ?

    Rog

  15. erp permalink
    September 16, 2009 10:02 pm

    Odd topic. Is the group, intellectuals, disjoint from the group, Christians?
    Part of the problem is that Christians come in many different flavors from the young earth creationists to the Bishop Spongs and which questions may depend on which Christians.

    1. How do you see the resurrection of Jesus? Of all the miracles mentioned in the Bible, I suspect this is the one most Christians hold most fervently to, but, some Christians see it perhaps as not physical.
    This can be followed up with questions on the Virgin Birth, multiplying the loaves, role of the Bible, etc. How do you handle apparent contradictions between the text of the Bible and science and history?

    2. What do you think should be the legal status of gays and lesbians as far as marriage, discrimination, etc.? What about their status within your Church?

    3. What do you think should be the roles of men and women within your church as well as within the greater society?

    4. What do you see as the responsibilities of Christians to other Christians and to non-Christians?

    5. How do you answer the problem of Evil?

  16. Ray S. permalink
    September 17, 2009 12:02 am

    I’ll add three:

    Why was it necessary for a god to take a human form, essentially raping a virgin to do so, in order to provide salvation from a situation he created him self? A truly omnipotent god would not need such an obtuse method of bestowing everlasting life on humans.

    Why is it that people think they see images of Mary or Jesus on toast, on the side of buildings, in clouds, etc. when there are no detailed descriptions of either person?

    Why does it seem that the more devout you are the more likely it is that you believe Jesus spoke in archaic English (ala KJV)?

  17. Ash permalink
    September 17, 2009 2:27 am

    Tomato Addict, re question 3 – African or European?

  18. joe agnost permalink
    September 17, 2009 11:32 am

    Roger’s #4 got me thinking of Pascal’s wager – so I’d ask this question too:

    – Why do so many Christians think that Pascal’s wager applies to religion when there are clearly hundreds of equally viable religions to choose from?
    Pascal’s wager requires that the choice be A ~or~ B, not A, B, C, D,….. In short – it doesn’t apply to religion.

    It’s constantly trotted out like it’s a valid application of the wager.

    My answer to their ‘pascal’s wager’ query (when I get it) is that I can’t simply ‘play it safe’ by choosing god because then I’d have to get into ~which~ god and there are hundreds (thousands?) to choose from! If I choose Jesus and god turns out to be Mohammed I’m screwed the same way as the atheists!

  19. September 17, 2009 1:37 pm

    Ray-
    I would like to know the answer to #3 myself as a devout Christian. I try to imagine some days white Jesus running around talking in archaic English…its quite a strange image.

    Shannon-
    When I plant a Church in a few years, can I look you up and remind me not to be an idiot about what we do as a church, especially building 3 million dollar additions? Ok! thanks!

    -Eric

  20. joe agnost permalink
    September 17, 2009 2:58 pm

    Another one:

    – why do theists think it’s just a matter of changing our (atheists) minds? Like we can just ‘flip the switch’ and start believing?

    It isn’t a choice. You either believe or you don’t, it’s not something you can just decide – your mind does that subconsciously.

    If we don’t believe they should blame their god for making us unbelievers – because there is NOTHING I can do about it.

  21. Shannon permalink
    September 18, 2009 9:20 am

    @Eric –

    No problem. 🙂 I can even give you a hand finding a less expensive way to minister to the folks that you’d have to fit in that expansion – in exchange, can we use the cash to help out the homeless guys that have set up an apartment under the bridge across from where I work?

    … man. I have /got/ to figure out how to get involved there. This is a great town, but the recession’s done a number on people’s housing.

  22. AdamK permalink
    September 18, 2009 11:49 am

    Why would anybody want to be a christian? What do you find attractive about this “god” fantasy? Why are you so into calling everybody a “sinner” and inventing random things to feel guilty about? What the hell is your problem with sex, anyway?

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