Thursday, March 01, 2007

    10 questions that every intelligent Christian must answer



    This video might anger some Christians but I think it poses some important questions (including those I offered in the previous entry entitled "Certainty"). They are the sort of questions that some young people I've worked with start asking after they go off to college. Questions that seem to point to a contradiction between faith and reason. All the more reason we should challenge our youth with these sorts of questions long before they leave our care and decide there are no good answers. I actually think the questions posed in this video are completely valid. Many deal with theodicy and the problem of suffering in the world. There are no easy answers to the concerns he poses - and I agree that the typical answers given to his questions are inadequate. My problem with the questioner is that he presents only one particular view of God/Christianity. I would argue that this fellow is a fundamentalist atheist, which is to say that his view of the Bible is every bit as narrow and literalistic as Christian fundamentalists (much like Bart Erhman, the fundamentalist-turned-atheist who wrote "Misquoting Jesus.") I do not beleive in the sort of God he describes in the video any more than he does. I wonder: Is there room in his thinking to consider the role of metaphor and myth within the biblical texts? Is there room in his non-theology to consider a God who is not "out there" acting over-and-above creation but rather God as that which works within and through the created order (including you and me)?

    8 comments:

    Benjer said...

    I agree that this video poses important questions. However, it should be noted that this video does not pose these 10 questions as the beginning of an open discussion, but as a large-scale straw man argument. I acknowledge that these questions are very important pastorally when asked in an honest manner, but in this video they are used only as the means to giving an argument against Christian theism--and not a very good or logically coherent argument at that. In addition to the fallacy of the straw man argument, other fallacies the video uses are the non sequitur fallacy, an ad hominem argument, a false dichotomy, and the fallacy of the complex question. As I have posted on my own blog, I welcome critique of the Christian worldview. This video, however, is more of an attack than a critique.

    youthminister66 said...

    Benjer, thanks for writing. I concur with you to a degree that the poster of this video sets up a straw man argument and he is certainly a self-avowed atheist so he does not hide the fact that he is pushing a particular point of view. I offer this video as an example of the kinds of questions that those outside the faith (and sometimes those within the faith)are thinking/asking. We should have an answer for them, I think, or at least be willing to struggle with the questions. As an aside, I have to say I was amused at his question about why amputees never have their limbs grow back. What would be a response to that critque of prayer for healing?

    Benjer said...

    I agree that we have to deal with the issue that not all prayers for healing are answered. What do we do with passages like James 5:15, "The prayer of faith will save the sick"? I am not an expert on this subject, but I think a few points are pertinent. First, are we to believe that those who are not healed do not have enough faith? Some have concluded that from this verse, but this ignores questions about what James means by "save" (sotero in Greek). Does "save" refer to healing or to eschatological salvation? Second, Jesus taught his disciples to pray like him, "your will be done." There are some prayers that God does not answer, because to answer them would be against his will. This, of course, raises all sorts of problems, included the quesiton of a good God allowing suffering and seemingly not doing anything about it. So my third point would be to consider the argument that God has created the best of all worlds with the least amount of suffering that is possible while still granting humans free will. I am not prepared to flesh out this argument, but Philip Yancey gives a nice plain-English version in his book Where's God When it Hurts?
    Pastorally, it is a question all Christians must be prepared to deal with. Many people ask the questions the video presented in a very honest way with terribly broken hearts. Part of my annoyance with the video is that it does not deal with the questions or even seem to care about amputees. Instead, they are just a philisophical means to an athiest end. I hope I articulated that I believe the questions raised are important and need to be answered, and that my main beef with the video is the fact that presents a logically false argument while insisting I use my brain to listen to it.

    youthminister66 said...

    Benjer, excellent thoughts. I appreciate your willingness to respond to the video. What I personally dislike about the video is that it is a caricature of honest Christian thought. He neglects to consider the massive amount of honest theological thought that has gone into trying to understand the relationship between prayer and suffering. I like your assertion that God has created the best of all possible worlds and our free will takes over from there. One of my favorite texts on this issue is Terrence Fretheim's "The Suffering God" in which he argues that when we suffer, God suffers, too.

    John said...

    The video seems to be created from a very angry person who has now turned his back on God. But God is not to blame for everything. the devil is also not to be blamed for everything, sometimes we are the fault ourselves.God created everything, yes bombs and stuff like that but we as humans use this knowledge incorrectly.If we really think these are intelligent questions we are not that intelligent. These questions answer themselves :)and have one golden thread and that is US - Humans When God created the heavens, earth and all the creatures on it was GOOD. He created Man and Man was good. Man ate from the fruit of the tree of knowledge thus the opening of sin, and bad things happening. God put us on this earth for one thing and this is to honor and glorify him, praise him and have conversations with him. In many instances in the Bible God wanted to end human existence as they have become sinful and that was not part of his plan. Man the pleaded with God to give them another chance which God did. God Knew that this would happen and that is why HE gave his only SON to set right the wrong. This was for grace and to have a relationship with God again.I will have a jab at the questions but then I ask one question if you believe God doesn’t exist you believe that the devil is true, and if you look at the 10 questions can the devil do any of those? Now questions:1)Amputees - Because it is a natural law of the human body that if you chop off an arm the bone dies, just like the tree of life - man ate and he died.

    John said...

    Part 2
    It is like going out in the snow or bad weather with no protection on yet we believe we will not get sick…. Come on man….
    2) Why do people strive - because we as human which are supposed to look out for each other as self-centered and care only for our own well being
    3) why does God demand death for people – Because HE hates sin, He is a perfect GOD, HE cannot stand the sight of sin. That is why HIS Son was offered so that we can be covered in HIS Son’s blood to be able to have a relationship with HIM. The Bible also says that the devil walks around like a roaring lion to murder steel and cause destruction.
    4)How is the Bible anti-scientific – animals where created living beings, cells in cells in cells in cells ….. I believe God is the grated scientist ever nobody can created anything yes we can clone stuff but not create it. Cloning bring up a whole new discussion
    5) Slavery – this breaks HIS people in the old testament to turn back to HIM. God never steps away.. ok HE did with that one King in the Bible to test him but he never steps away we do so we end up looking for somebody to lead us, and provide for us but humans cannot provide to humans as there is always a hidden agenda
    6) bad thing to good people – why do we do bad things to others? The earth is satans playground this is very evident in the Bible. satan doesn’t attack people he attacks the good in people think about that for a while
    7) Jesus and miracles = What more evidence do you need? You have the bible! you have miracles happening today why do you want old wine, stall bread, fish bones, spit on the ground?? Here we go earthly beings wanting earthly things so that we can comfort ourselves with what we can see
    8)Jesus appearing – this may be true for some people and me included. Jesus is in me. If you come out more in the world you will hear of people testifying in Russia & India that Jesus came to them. They are now lead to Christ via their own “bibles” can you believe that 
    9)Eat HIS body drink HIS blood – in remembrance of HIM and what He has done for us. When you eat and drink of HIS spirit in communion you share the single goal with you other believers that HE is the only ONE
    10) Devore rate – because Christian couples don’t become one, they don’t break off old bonds (blood bonds) created with sleeping around, they entertain themselves with pornography sowing bad seed into their lives, they don’t build their foundations upon Christ. People get divorced because they cannot communicate to each other because they are to self-centered and care only for their own needs.

    John said...

    It is like going out in the snow or bad weather with no protection on yet we believe we will not get sick…. Come on man….
    2) Why do people strive - because we as human which are supposed to look out for each other as self-centered and care only for our own well being
    3) why does God demand death for people – Because HE hates sin, He is a perfect GOD, HE cannot stand the sight of sin. That is why HIS Son was offered so that we can be covered in HIS Son’s blood to be able to have a relationship with HIM. The Bible also says that the devil walks around like a roaring lion to murder steel and cause destruction.
    4)How is the Bible anti-scientific – animals where created living beings, cells in cells in cells in cells ….. I believe God is the grated scientist ever nobody can created anything yes we can clone stuff but not create it. Cloning bring up a whole new discussion
    5) Slavery – this breaks HIS people in the old testament to turn back to HIM. God never steps away.. ok HE did with that one King in the Bible to test him but he never steps away we do so we end up looking for somebody to lead us, and provide for us but humans cannot provide to humans as there is always a hidden agenda
    6) bad thing to good people – why do we do bad things to others? The earth is satans playground this is very evident in the Bible. satan doesn’t attack people he attacks the good in people think about that for a while
    7) Jesus and miracles = What more evidence do you need? You have the bible! you have miracles happening today why do you want old wine, stall bread, fish bones, spit on the ground?? Here we go earthly beings wanting earthly things so that we can comfort ourselves with what we can see
    8)Jesus appearing – this may be true for some people and me included. Jesus is in me. If you come out more in the world you will hear of people testifying in Russia & India that Jesus came to them. They are now lead to Christ via their own “bibles” can you believe that 
    9)Eat HIS body drink HIS blood – in remembrance of HIM and what He has done for us. When you eat and drink of HIS spirit in communion you share the single goal with you other believers that HE is the only ONE
    10) Devore rate – because Christian couples don’t become one, they don’t break off old bonds (blood bonds) created with sleeping around, they entertain themselves with pornography sowing bad seed into their lives, they don’t build their foundations upon Christ. People get divorced because they cannot communicate to each other because they are to self-centered and care only for their own needs.

    John said...

    My view, none of you tried to answer the questions. The video seems to be created from a very angry person who has now turned his back on God. But God is not to blame for everything. the devil is also not to be blamed for everything, sometimes we are the fault ourselves.

    God created everything, yes bombs and stuff like that but we as humans use this knowledge incorrectly.

    If we really think these are intelligent questions we are not that intelligent. These questions answer themselves :)and have one golden thread and that is US - Humans

    When God created the heavens, earth and all the creatures on it was GOOD. He created Man and Man was good. Man ate from the fruit of the tree of knowledge thus the opening of sin, and bad things happening. God put us on this earth for one thing and this is to honor and glorify him, praise him and have conversations with him. In many instances in the Bible God wanted to end human existence as they have become sinful and that was not part of his plan. Man the pleaded with God to give them another chance which God did. God Knew that this would happen and that is why HE gave his only SON to set right the wrong. This was for grace and to have a relationship with God again.
    I will have a jab at the questions but then I ask one question if you believe God doesn’t exist you believe that the devil is true, and if you look at the 10 questions can the devil do any of those?