Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Challenge (part deux)

I'm finding this call for a public debate on Christianity intriguing.  I'm posting the latest challenge by Luce here, and then moving over some of the comment thread.  Part one of this challenge can be found here: Part One

**The Concept of Jesus as Savior is Ridiculous if God Exists**

As the story goes, all humanity has a fatal flaw. Sin is sown into our very natures. You can call this "original sin" or more simply as humans just can't help but mess up. Since God is perfect, he can't take us into heaven in our unclean state. To fix this, God sent his son Jesus as a sacrifice so that we can be washed in the blood of Christ. This cleanses us into a state of perfection, a state worthy to be in the presence of God. However, and this is a big point, we can only be washed clean if we take Jesus Christ as our lord and savior. Belief in Jesus as God is REQUIRED for the sacrifice to work.

Unfortunately, this story does not work if God is supposed to be all powerful and unconditionally loving, as the New Testament makes God out to be.

First, if God is unconditionally loving, that means that God would never put a condition on his love. Since God wants us all to be in heaven where his perfect love is manifest, God would never put a condition on our path to get there. That would be putting a condition on God's love. However, if God requires that we first believe in his son in order to be blessed with the fullness of his love, then that's where we get a contradiction. God cannot both be unconditionally loving and requiring a condition for his love. I say that whole requirement part is bunk.

In fact, it is such bunk that if God is truly unconditionally loving, God would do away with all conditions and just whisk everyone to heaven when the time comes. Since God is all powerful, he can surely make it such that no sacrificial blood washing is ever needed. After all, God is God and can do anything. The whole "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son" schtick is really misguided. It basically means that God wasn't powerful enough to get around that sin thing without some major rigamarole. He could just snap his fingers and bring us all into heaven, all cleansed and perfect if he wanted to.

However, since the New Testament clearly doesn't have that God in mind, I call bunk on that too. If God actually exists, Jesus would be entirely unnecessary. It's time to flush Christianity.


  1. My offer is to continue talking about this in a more public forum than only a one-on-one meeting. If my arguments and points are generally right, then that should be of general interest. If I am wrong, then likewise as well. What better for the Christian fellowship than for me, an atheist, to be taken down by the light of Christianity!

    But that is not happening yet. Not even UWW campus ministers are answering. Maybe they can't. Maybe they do not know about this blog. I don't know, but I still challenge them to give me reasonable doubt using more than the "just have faith" response.

    Where are you, campus ministers?? My guess is that they already know somewhere deep inside that they are wolves in sheep's clothing gently deceiving their flocks and so shying away from all such challenges.

  2. There are probably a few reasons that we want to meet with you in person, but one of them is that here on the internet, there are literally no consequences for the things you say. No one knows who you are. However, when you talk with someone in person, you become more accountable for your ideas, and more aware of the things you are saying. Chances are, if we were to meet in public, your personality would be very dissimilar to what it is on this forum. Also, on the internet, one can go to google or flip open a philosophy textbook, copy and paste some stuff, and slap a "Here's what I think" pretext onto it. However, when we meet in person, we are talking about what is really on our hearts, and the things that we have internalized. If you really want to get to know us, and find out how we respond to your ideas, and discover what we believe, then why not respond to an offer to meet in person? Your sentiment in your original post was mostly seeking responses, i.e. "Will someone respond to my post?" We offer our responses to you in a way that will be more revealing and more personal than talking back and forth through a screen. You have Nack, and you have me; my name is Brian Zwick. We don't want to take you down, we want to come to an understanding. We encourage you to step out from behind the protection of the internet and take responsibility for your ideas.

    Give me a call or send me a text. My number is (262) 993-5574.

  3. You think I'm hiding by wanting to stay on the blog and and that I'm afraid of accountability. I think you are hiding by not wanting to have this public debate.

    If we just meet in person, there's not much at stake. Not many people will hear what you or I say there, and thus there's no real accountability. When more people hear what you say, it means more, and chances are you will be more careful in what you say and your reasoning. I am being quite careful and reasoned in what I write. So I expect that you would do the same.

    I say we give this public blog a go! Let's hear your rebuttals.

    1. I would say that you are correct in wanting to address a large group of people with this blog. I think it works for your critics and to defend your position. I am not one of them. I am an atheist myself and I would like to talk to you one on one about atheism and to seek wisdom in my own understanding of it. This seems to be a blog post about criticism of beliefs about Christianity and not about discussing atheism. Therefore, It would be nice to talk in person at some point. You seem like the kind of fellow that could help me out with clarifying my own positions. Once again my email is If you decline I understand, time is precious these days.

  4. Here's what I see going on.
    Luce is being rational, and calling for some public debate on the issue.
    The others, the Christians, want to get to know Luce on a personal level, which should have NOTHING to do with actually sorting out the arguments.
    You, the others, are being ridiculous. Why do you need to interact with Luce on a personal level face-to-face to prove a point or make an argument? Why do you assume Luce is not being genuine with his ideas just because on this blog, specific persons do not get held accountable? Why do you feel like Luce has something different in his heart? I am an atheist, and I fucking hate it when people like you think you can just enter my personal life, get to know me, and "fix" my heart or something. There's nothing wrong with me or my spirit or my heart or my life at all! Honestly speaking, I just think it's completely unnecessary to be a Christian and I have no reason to believe in a PKM god that supposedly sent his son down to save us, and that we'll go to some place called heaven, on the condition that we accept the son as our savior. Well, you know what? It's a myth. It's a complete myth. No one has any proof that it isn't (if anything, there's more evidence suggesting that it is a myth, stolen from the pagans). So when it comes to faith and acceptance, I've got plenty of both - for my friends and family, myself, my life in general, the path I've chosen, the things I invest my time into, and everything about living as a human being. I also have faith that if there is an afterlife, I'll be going to the right place, because only a cruel, irrational god would send me elsewhere. If you think you're going to talk to someone and try to get them to find a relationship with your PKM god, well imagine if I came up to you and said, "Hey let's meet so I can tell you about MY version of God, and why that one is better than yours". Well, since I'm not afraid, I'll say it - my version is the kind that you can only understand subjectively through inward reflection. It is highly difficult to speak rightly of, and it is futile and unnecessary to advise anyone else about this. My version of God is only for the here and now. I coulod say God is Nature, and that God is Love. And isn't that enough? Why do we need to make it into a fairy tale about a savior, and imaginary after-life lands? If we have intense anxiety about life and the meaning of it, and we want to feel comfort, we don't need a PKM god that supposedly exists outside of us. All we need is to look inward and figure things out on our own by reflecting on the reality of life and who we are. I latch onto Nature and Love because to me, those are the ultimate goods in life. And that's it. Why push it further? God is not inter-subjective, OK!? And if you think your PKM god really exists, why can't you come forward and speak about why we should believe Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior? Defend your Savior here and now or forever hold your peace.

  5. **Heaven ain’t for humans**

    The lure of Christianity is that one goes to heaven if one believes in Jesus. I mean, if there is no heaven, why would one believe? Heaven is the promise of eternal joy, the fullness of God, ultimate love and peace. Sounds awesome.

    Or does it? Let’s pause and think about what makes humans human. Humans like difference. We don’t like to eat the same things for breakfast all the time. I like wheat chex personally but if I had to eat that day after day after day after day, I’d get sick of it. Say with most everything. I don’t wear the same clothes everyday nor speak the same words, watch the same shows, walk the dog along the same path, talk to only the same people, and a bunch of other things. I like difference. Humans like difference. That’s why we have so many choices to choose from in the supermarket, the clothes stores, and every other store. Difference is good.

    What else makes humans human? We are learning creatures. We learn through our mistakes, our suffering, and our disappointments. But we like to learn. We yearn to learn, and we learn mostly through hardship.

    What else? Oh yeah, we like to have fun. I don’t know about you, but sex sure is fun. Actually, I do know about you. You think sex is fun too. We’re built for it and it tickles all the right fancies.

    Oh, and let us not forget the whole free will aspect of humanity.

    To say the least, humans enjoy lots of difference, plenty of learning, tons of sex, and the power of free will. Earth is great for that! Heaven sucks.

    Heaven sucks for humans because here’s what heaven is said to be like. God’s greatness is supposed to be so great that we can do nothing but stare or sing or bow in undying worship. That’s it. That’s all you will do for eternity. Stare. Sing. Bow. They are the inevitable effects of experiencing God’s love directly. Call me crazy but that sounds like HELL! I get the whole feelings of love that you have never felt before, that God’s love is better than anything. But come on. After a thousand years, even that’s going to get a little old. Can you possibly imagine singing for one entire year without stopping? If you were faced with that possibility here on earth, you would think it is a prison sentence. Some say that they feel God’s love in its fullness in their hearts right now, but I don’t see them singing for even days on end (even hours).

    Heaven has no difference. And heaven doesn’t allow for any learning. Where would the hardships come from? When would we make any mistakes? Everything’s perfect “up” there. Besides, we wouldn’t have time for any learning because we’re too busy being incapacitated because of the fullness of God’s love. Sex?? Oh, there’s no sex either. Who needs sex when you have God’s love experienced directly?! Free will? We’ll have none of that. Stare. Sing. Bow. Bye bye free will. Nice to have known you.

    Basically, humans should cringe at the idea of heaven because it lacks quite a few things that make us human: difference, learning, sex, and free will. Heaven ain’t for humans.

  6. Martin Luther King was a Christian and his faith gave him strength during the dark days of the Civil Right Movement. The Civil Rights Movement literally began in the Church. In his Autobiography, Nelson Mandela states that he is a Christian and that it his faith enabled him to survive 27 years of incarceration. Phillip Berrigan, a former priest and peace activist, along with marching with King, was one of the leading voices against the Viet Nam War. Oscar Romero and other priests and nuns paid with their lives for helping poor people in Latin America. Dietrich Bonhoeffer was executed by the Nazi for the plot to kill Hitler.

    These few examples demonstrate that faith in God is powerful. So it really does not matter how much you use logic to knock Jesus, God, and Christianity, people believe in it and use it to struggle against oppression.

    1. Well once people realize that they can overcome struggle on their own without faith in the Christian god, maybe it won't matter. In a pragmatic sense, one might be able to justify belief in the Christian god, because they might say it works for them. But just having faith in oneself and in life in general might work for others just as well. Should those people go to hell, just because they don't choose to take Jesus as their savior? It is not about knocking Jesus, God, and Christianity - it is just trying to get people to realize they don't really need those things to overcome struggle and oppression. People can be really strong spiritually without being Christian, but it doesn't make them bad people or hell-bound.

  7. Ramey, I get that you want to talk more about atheism, but what is it exactly you want to clarify? Atheism, for me, is the disbelief in any higher power. I especially find problems with the Christian god, but I don't find any good reason to believe in any sort of higher power. To me, belief in a higher power is a weakness of the mind. It is something people need to give up in order to become stronger.

  8. Anon 6:44, people can say a lot of things. People can say that something gave them strength, but causality is tricky. Did Martin Luther King Jr. become great because of his Christianity or did he become great because of his strong desires for equality? I don't think it really would matter what religion MLK believed. He could have even been an atheist, and it wouldn't matter because what really drove him was he passion for equality. He can say that Christianity was a big part, but it is far from clear that that is true. Same for anybody else.

    Do I write these things because I am a strident atheist or because I fight for rationality? You're probably thinking the former, while I'm thinking the latter. Causality is tricky.

    1. Faith in God was at the core of Martin's existence. He was born in the church. His father was a minister. All of his friends were ministers. He did believe in equality but many religious leaders believe in equality, such as Rev. Sharpton, Rev. King, Rev T.D. Jakes, and the late Rev. Adam Clayton, just to name a few. You know very little about King and the Black experience. I suggest you read the wonderful series of books, America During the King Years, and learn more about the role religion played in King;s life. But the fact is that his father was a minister in one of the largest black churches in Atlanta. Martin grew up in the church, All of his close associates were ministers, Rev Abernathy, Rev Bevel, Rev Jackson was even names after a religious leader, Martin Luther. His legal name was Michael but he used Martin after Martin Luther. His dissertation was A Comparison of the Conceptions of God in the Thinking of Tillich and Wideman. His doctorate was in Theology from Boston University. Martin was who he was because of the church. The African American church has always been active in struggles for equality since slavery. Like I said before, you know little about African American history and culture. Take one of the excellent courses offer here on African American history. Get educated.

    2. If you're going to critique me, you probably shouldn't be mean too. You should be more "Christian"-like.

      You obviously do not know who I am. What ethnicity do you suppose I am?

      In any case, if you think MLK wouldn't have cared squat about equality if he wasn't Christian, then you apparently have an amazing ability to read into the true causality of a person. If you don't presume to have such powers, then stop making your logical error. It is just as plausible to assume that MLK would have cared about equality and used whatever religious system he adhered to to back up his sentiments because all the religious systems he would have believed share the same moral code. Like I said, causality is tricky. For you to argue your point, you would have to have a God-like ability, which I think is a little funny given the context of this conversation. I'd rather stick with what I can possibly know and be humble with my humanity.

  9. I'm disappointed that neither Nack, nor Zwick, nor any other Christian is responding to my actual points (more than just the evil bit). Here are some other people who would be very disappointed: C. S. Lewis, Norman Geisler, Ravi Zacharias, Greg Boyd, Apostle Paul, Josh McDowell, Alister McGrath, and William Lane Craig. These are all renown advocates of apologetics, of having a strong defense of one's faith. Without a strong defense, there is no reason to have faith.

    People like Nack who grow up in Christian homes with Christian parents, always knowing the church, and always a part of youth groups and campus ministries, need to be able to distance themselves from that radical sheltering and be able to think for oneself as to what is reasonable and not reasonable. If you just believe what you are taught to believe without any serious questioning, you're gonna be duped, and duped hard.

    I'm taking the silence of any good rebuttals here as evidence that a fair amount of duping has happened, or else there would already be a good debate happening. This is so one-sided for this to even be interesting.

  10. Though I can't speak for anyone but myself, please don't assume that a non response is because duping has happened. I know for myself, I was not made aware of this blog or the post until midweek and have had other items that I have been needing to address. I do plan to make a defense for Christianity and post it sometime early next week. However, it seems to me that you are very familiar with the arguments that have been given by Christian apologists on the topics you posted about, so would my posting of a Christian defense be needed if you already know what the defense is? Was your post more to show that by and large Christians do not take the time to learn how to defend their faith or critically think about their faith?

    As I have read through the posts and the comments I look forward to posting a response.

    James Chambers, InterVarsity Campus Staff

  11. Dear James, if you like, I can post your response as a separate blog post here so that it does not get buried in the comments. Send it to Your response will be quite welcome.

  12. Luce, the amount of evidence available for each point you make requires a certain amount of time to write out. Please understand that multitudes of books have been written on these questions already, so even a condensed version is going to take a bit. I, and I'm sure the others, want to ensure quality answers and not emotionally-driven opinions.

    Along with James' questions, what is your intention with these attacks? If your point is to personally address us, then why refuse a personal meeting? If your point is public debate, why ignore the already public forums for that debate? If you would simply like to vent anger and frustration at what apologists have already answered, then let us know and we can step aside and move on. If you are honestly looking for answers for yourself, you seem to be well acquainted with sources for those answers. Help us understand exactly what you're attacking us for so we can best "defend" ourselves, as you say. :)

    - Nack

    P.S. Every time you post a new question you add to the answer we must give and thus delay any response. You started with six points and are now at eight by my count. That's a 33% increase in workload!

  13. Thanks James! I really look forward to your response. Really. Just don't use the bridge diagram. Or suppose that I have some spiritual disease without arguing for why I should believe that.

    I don't know what your defense might be. I'm hoping you don't parrot someone else. My point in all this is that I argue there are some real rational problems with Christianity. I definitely think that Christians should think more critically about their faith, but I also think Christianity cannot hold up to good, honest criticism. Too many Christians shy away from or use really faulty logic to protect their beliefs. So that is why I challenge. And if I'm wrong, then I am wrong. I go where the logic goes, as should everybody else.

  14. Nack, I'm challenging Christianity because I think that Christianity is toxic. It breeds fear, guilt, and shame. If one does not believe in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, you believe that the person is going to hell. Right? Do you not believe that I am currently going to hell? I really want you to answer that directly.

    Christianity says that I am always sinful and falling short. I must always be asking for repentance and sacrificing my soul for Jesus. If I don't keep praying or going to church or reading my Bible, then something must be wrong with me. If my faith waivers a little, I must be falling off the path of righteousness. Christianity thrives by guilt and shame.

    Christianity is bad for one's health. That is what prompts me to challenge. Does that answer your question? This challenge is not me venting my anger.

    Again, from what you know about me right now, do you believe I am going to hell?

  15. Luce, i dont want to admit it but you make points i cant answer. Im in crusade. Im confused now.

    1. Don't be confused. Follow what makes the most sense rationally. Don't let other people tell you what to believe just because they say to believe it.

  16. Is there going to be a response? Or is this thread dead?

    1. I'm still hoping for some kind of response. Wait and see.