Digging For Christian Gold
(Debating A Theist)
You might ask yourself if it’s really worth engaging in debate with any theist at all, but it can be; some theists are actually quite intelligent, despite having the unfortunate affliction of having been indoctrinated into an organised faith system. In fact, debating a Christian is a great exercise in critical thinking, because it forces you to dig deep for your responses. Give it a go, but don’t expect to strike gold immediately; for every debate-worthy, intellectually stimulating theist out there, there are many more who are as valuable as fool’s gold.
Here are some things I’ve been asked by Christians, and my responses.
• “Doesn’t it ever strike you as odd that so many are drawn to Christianity?”
It doesn’t strike me as odd at all, just a real shame. Religion has been around in one form or another for thousands of years. Along with other superstitious beliefs, the religions have spread until their influence on humanity is almost indelible. To believe that “someone” created you, created the Earth, and created everything beyond the Earth is something attributable to ancient times, not modern times. Believing such things is a practice that ought to have faded into history by now.
• “You will never live up to the standard of God.”
A standard created and imposed not by God, but by ancient man. A standard tweaked and picked at by every individual Christian the modern world over, to fit into a combination of their own personal standards, and what they think the Bible says about God’s standards.
• “Most people don’t understand that God already loves you.”
Your god only loves you in your head. There isn’t a scrap of evidence of a higher entity anywhere in the universe, and certainly no one should consider ancient scriptures as being the “word” of any such entity. The “love” you feel is purely neurological, and is merely a confused understanding of the nature surrounding you.
• “He just wants you to seek him out.”
No, no no! If you have read your Bible, then you should know the scriptures say God does not want you to seek him out. In fact, he orders quite the opposite in Deuteronomy 4:19.
“And lest thou lift up thine eyes unto heaven, and when thou seest the sun and the moon and the stars, even all the host of heaven, shouldest be driven to worship them and serve them, which the Lord thy God hath imparted unto all nations under the whole heaven.”
The Living Bible paraphrases this in more modern times quite succinctly:
“And do not look up into the sky to worship the sun, moon, or stars. The Lord may permit other nations to get away with this, but not you. ”
The order from God is for us to not search the stars. What he’s doing with this order is attempting to stunt scientific progress. If all good Christians throughout history had adhered to God’s alleged words in Deuteronomy 4:19, they would not have accepted or recognised any scientific discoveries concerning anything beyond the Earth. In other words, we would still be living in the Dark Ages.
• “When you find him, you will understand what everyone else understands.”
I assure you, there will never be a “when” for me. I have studied – albeit as an amateur – history, astronomy, geology, languages, geography, psychology, and more. And I have studied Christianity and other religions’ doctrines and philosophies. The only ideas within the Bible I agree with are the purely humanitarian areas. I do not and never will accept the concept of an entity which demands my worship. Moreover, if any such entity were to descend to the Earth from the stars, I would call it a charlatan – mighty, no doubt, but deserving of an entire species eternity of praise and devotion? Absolutely not.
What I do understand is that religious people need religion, they need to believe in a higher, unfathomable purpose above themselves, they need to believe they’re going somewhere after their bodies die. In the absence of one ‘divine’ plan, in the absence of a particular religion, most god-fearers would just choose another faith to kneel down to, another god to name as theirs. Now, tell me what everyone else understands?
• “Science has helped show that events in the Bible are possible.”
This one is brilliant, is it not? Here’s a list of miracles allegedly performed by Jesus – without science, which science has not proved possible, along with where they can be found in the Bible:
1 Turning water into wine.
2. Faith healing (including regeneration of severed appendage – Luke 22)
3. Exorcism (Matthew 12, 17; Mark 1,9; Luke 4,9,11)
4. Bringing the dead back to life (Lazarus) (Luke 4,8; John 11)
5. Controlling the weather (Matthew 8; Mark 4; Luke 8)
6. Summoning demons (Matthew 8, Mark 5, Luke 8)
7. Mass instant food replication (5 loaves + 2 fish to fill 5000+ stomachs)
8. Walking on water (Matthew 14; Mark 6; John 6)
9. Power of atrophy over nature (Withering the fig tree) (Matthew 21; Mark 11)
And those are just Jesus’ alleged escapades without adding the extremely dubious account of his resurrection in Matthew 28. To list all else, especially from the Old Testament, would take much, much longer. And let’s not mention turning someone into a pillar of salt. Oops.
• “How do you know what happened in the past unless you were there?”
We know thanks to fossil records, carbon dating, geological findings, physics, human history, statistical probabilities, limits of human abilities… In short, we know because we seek, find, study, learn, accept, and employ. That is the nature of science and the gathering of wisdom.
• “To be a true follower in science you have to be open to all possibilities, even spiritual ones.”
I like this point, because it’s partially true. Science takes a theory, a myth, a belief or something presumed to be true, and it explores it. It digs deeper. It takes time in doing so, but every scientific fact came about as a direct or indirect result of a theory, myth, legend, presumption, etc.
Science has disproved myths and legends like the Loch Ness monster, the Abominable Snowman, and many other more obscure creatures in ancient lore. Science has proven that the stars are not angels, but rather balls of intensely hot gasses. Science may not have seen it, but it knows that in the centre of the Earth is, not Hell or Satan, but a solid ball of nickel-iron alloy the same temperature as the surface of the Sun. Ah, the Sun! An object of spirituality in bygone years, today a yellow dwarf star consisting mainly of hydrogen and helium. Oh, we’re certainly not opposed to exploring spiritual possibilities.
• “There are things in the world our minds don’t yet understand.”
There are things in the world certain people’s minds can’t understand. There are also certain things in the world not yet able to be fully explained by scientific methodology. I assure you, that will change, but it will be science that gives the answers, not religion.
There is Christian gold out there, but don’t expect to get rich from it. At best, you can make a friend with vastly fundamental differences to you, with whom you can engage in deep theological debate. But there’s no such thing as winning in the Great Debate Game, because the fact that atheists can’t prove there’s no afterlife puts them at a no-win disadvantage, and the fact that Christians can’t come back to prove there’s an afterlife, puts them at a disadvantage too. Still, what matters is that we keep talking. Surely something will come good of it, eventually. Surely…?