So, why do I consider myself an atheist (part 3)
It’s now difficult for me to believe in the God of the bible. The monumental failure of prayer in my life is the least of my reasons I do not believe. I don’t understand how a God can claim to be all loving, all powerful, all knowing and send people to hell for an eternity or allow the amount of suffering in the world that He supposedly does (problem of evil). How can this be an answer to a finite life? I never asked to be born. If God’s divinity demands infinite justice, how can God create a universe in which the great majority go to hell for an eternity (problem of hell)?
Free will, you say? If free will truly interested God, he wouldn’t intervene in man’s decisions and should accept the consequences of rejection. God, after all, created/actualized the world. That’s clearly not the case, God values obedience (at least in the bible). God makes it pretty clear that he wants automatons, not beings who freely choose him or else he wouldn’t threaten everyone with hell for not complying, without evidence.
But God can not show himself without violating your free will, you say? So, does a jury’s access to evidence impinge on the jury’s free-will? Evidence is a most important piece of information that help us make decisions. No one would think an impartial jury that is compelled with threats of violence, absent evidence on which to make a verdict, would return a verdict opposing the party making the threat. Yet this is how we are to judge our lives; without impartial evidence and compelled with the threat of punishment. How can one make a decision that’s not based on any evidence except the say so of another (i.e. the bible)? While I may not be able to prove that I love my wife, she has good reason to think so. Based on my treatment, behavior and commitment to her, she knows that I love her even if she can’t “prove it.” (She has an engagement ring, wedding ring, Ketubah (she’s Jewish), my friendship, my affection, my loyalty, my fidelity, my explicit words telling her I love her, my listening to her etc…) At no point do I think threatening her in some way shows love.
In my search for God I have come across a host of issues, that at the very least, cast doubt on many of the events in the bible.
What I know:
- I have a brain whether by God or by evolution.
- I am obligated to think and reach my own conclusions (I am “apparently forced” to make a guess in terms of religion)
- Does one have the right to be wrong (can one be mistaken?)?
Creation versus Scientific knowledge on the origins of the universe, life:
- Origin of Universe. still a mystery, but current theory is the Big Bang Theory. The universe is expanding at an accelerated rate. We know with reasonable accuracy age of universe to be 13.77 billion years.
- Origin of solar system/earth: Earth is 4.54 billion years
- Origin of life: still a mystery, but there are experiments that show reactions that create the requisite materials for life as we know it.
- Origins of mankind and evolution of other species: Mankind shows common ancestry with other creatures through evolution by natural selection. Fossil records show that strata and time are related. DNA evidence shows we share genes with all life on planet. Strata and radiometric dating show convergence on dates.
- Is the Bible creation story just another creation myth, one among many?
On The Bible:
- Is it a problem that the Bible has been translated from the original spoken language of Aramaic into Greek (for the New Testament) of which we do not have any originals, only copies of copies of copies?
- Is it a problem that the surviving copies have known errors?
- Is it a problem knowing that other gospels never made it into the bible to become canon?
- Is the bible to be taken as whole or should each book be evaluated on its own merits?
- Who wrote the bible?
- What do we do with contradictions whether internally in a book or between different books of the bible or reality?
- Why are there no miracles today?
- Why does prayer fail so consistently?
- Can a man be a God? Can a God be a man? does this make sense?
- How reliable is eyewitness testimony? Would you accept my experience as gospel truth?
- Why is the resurrection story so convoluted between the different gospel narratives?
- Why are biblical archaeologists unable to find evidence of the Exodus? And if the Exodus never happened, why would Jesus celebrate it? Was Jesus nothing more than a man of his time?
- Is the story of the resurrection historical fact or a legend?
I wish to end with this. I actually value the thematic elements in the bible after being exposed to books by Bart Ehrman. A lot of the questions I have posed above are not easy questions. For a while, I took the bible for nothing more than a bronze age nomadic superstition of the Middle East. I’m a big movie buff. Two of my favorite movies are “The Shawshank Redemption” and “The Green Mile.” It would be difficult to understand these movies without the references to the imprisonment (the human condition of the Fall) of an innocent man (Jesus) who befriends criminals (Jesus’ ministry) who escapes (dies) through “5 football fields” of the most “vile filth” (hell) to come out clean on the other side (resurrection). The warden (the devil) is then judged (hell), and Red (the good thief) is let out on parole and meets him in Zihuatanejo (heaven). If this isn’t a biblical parallel, then I don’t know what one is. The Green Mile also follows a similar pattern except the prison guards represent the apostolic point of view of the same themes. I now enjoy the stories as…well… stories. It would be difficult for me, but not impossible, to believe in Christianity. It would require proof of some sort. I do want to let you know that I do not look down on anyone for believing. Most of my family are believers. I don’t think someone is stupid for merely being Christian or smart by virtue of being atheist. We were taught to accept faith issues without question in many cases. Some have converted to Christianity because it resonates with them. Some continue to find meaning in these stories. But I have to ask, how do you know? How do you know Islam or Buddhism aren’t “true?” Muslims, Hindus, Jews and many others claim divine revelation. Many people convert to said religions, many are fulfilled by said religions.
So, how do you know?
Links on Atheism
|Hanouma Wala on Why the Hijab is a Symbol of…|
|Introspection can be… on A mystical experience?|
|ECAW's blog on Why Islam Is a Problem|
|Toby Jax on I Find Islam Offensive|
|Toby Jax on Islam does not make one more…|
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