I challenge anyone in Campus Crusade for Christ (now known as “Cru”), Intervarsity, Navigators, or any other Evangelical Christian to refute me. Be honest that if you find some of these problems insurmountable, that you will reconsider some of your beliefs. If you are able to successfully defeat most of what I offer using reasons rather than simple appeals to faith, then I will reconsider mine. I am an outspoken, strident atheist, but I am not above being wrong and will admit it if need be. My claim is that Christianity is one of the great deceptions known to man, specifically “Evangelical” Christianity.
Jesus is not God
There are a number of problems with the claim that Jesus is God. First, if Jesus was God, isn’t funny that no one in his own family followed him and worshipped him as God? I should also add that none of his friends, teachers, or acquaintances worshipped him as God either. It wasn’t till he was ~33 years old when he got his band of 12 disciples that he got any following whatsoever. Sure, Jesus was a smart kid in the temple growing up, but that hardly equates to divinity. You would think that if he really were God, that everyone from all over would have been flocking to him at a very early age. It would be abundantly obvious that he was God. The whole world should have been bowing to him by the time he was a teenage. But no. He got his first 12 followers by the age of 33 years old.
Of course, this misses the obvious fact that Jesus never calls himself God, ever! In the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke), Jesus calls himself the “Son of man,” which is not exactly saying that Jesus = God. In the gospel of John, Jesus says that he is the “Son of God,” which sounds a little better to justify divinity, but that expression could be used by anyone. If God creates us, we would all be sons and daughters of God. If I say that the Father is in me, as Jesus said, then it makes perfect sense to say that I am begotten by God, a son of God. Thus, something more needs to be given to show that Jesus = God, but Jesus himself never gives that. That is a designation that was given to Jesus well after he died.
Jesus never rose from the dead
Give any solid evidence that Jesus actually rose from the dead that doesn’t smack of speculation. Yes, the Roman guards were good guards and they kept good watch. But if the tomb was actually found empty, does it make more sense to say that the dead guy who died brutally on the cross all of a sudden came back to life and walked out of the tomb, or that something else happened (like the guards weren’t watching the tomb as closely as reported and somebody stole the body)? If you want me to believe that this dead guy defied all rules of biology and physics, then you’ll have to give me some really good evidence. Again, I’m just saying that a blind appeal to faith won’t cut it.
The failure of Jesus’ Return
When Jesus spoke of the end and returning, he was very very clear that he was coming back very very soon. Mark 9:1, “And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power.” Matthew 23:36, “Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation.” I guess we are still waiting after almost 2000 years (!). I think it’s safe to say that everyone who heard those words are dead now. That generation did not see all of the kingdom of God being ushered in before they died.
But some of you will quote Matthew 24:14 which says, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.” You will say that not all of the nations have heard the gospel yet. And I say, “Is that really your comeback?” Who exactly hasn’t heard of Christianity by now? The Bible is by far the most printed book in the history of the world. EVERY nation has heard of Christianity. Missionaries litter the globe. The preaching part to every nation is complete. And yet Jesus has not returned. The only reasonable conclusion is that there will not be any “return.”
The Bible is not God’s Word
There is great emphasis on calling the Bible “God’s Word” and esteeming it with inerrancy. The reason for this emphasis is that it gives that book great authority if true. The problem is not so much that there are some obvious errors in the Old Testament, which counts against inerrancy, but that the Bible never makes any reasonable claim that it is God’s Word (but even if it did, it would be circular reasoning).
Here’s the story that’s told. In 2 Timothy 3:16, Paul says, “All scripture is God-breathed.” That’s typically the only reason why people believe that the Bible is the Word of God, but that’s shortsighted. First, the word “God-breathed” is highly vague. No Biblical scholar can say with certainty what that word really means because we have very few ancient manuscripts that use that term. Thus, we have never been able to get a good definition of it, making it really hard to interpret it as saying the whole Bible was somehow written “by God” and without any error. It could mean “pertaining to God” or “from the mouths of believers.” But to say that it must specifically mean that every statement in the Bible must be true because God specifically put it there is overreaching at best. It is just that no one really knows what “God-breathed” means. That’s Strike One.
Second, for the sake of argument, let’s just say that “God-breathed” means what every Evangelical wants it to mean. Ok, when Paul says, “scripture,” he is only referring to the Old Testament because when Paul was writing, that was the only scripture. So he technically leaves out everything in the New Testament. Oops. Thus, if you use 2 Timothy 3:16, you cannot say that the “whole” Bible is God’s Word (again neverminding the first point). Strike Two.
Third, at this point, someone will bring up 2 Peter 3:15-16 to show that the New Testament is also considered scripture. In those verses, Peter says, “and regard the patience of our Lord to be salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.” Here people say that Peter equates Paul’s writings with scripture. That is a stretch because the passage is ambiguous. Actually, it is much easier to understand the passage simply as Peter saying that Paul’s writings are hard to understand as some of the OT books are hard to understand. There’s no equating going on there, but so be it. The point I want to make is that even if we allow for the stretch of Peter equating Paul’s writings with scripture, that still leaves out these New Testament books: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts, Hebrews, James, the epistles of Peter (that’s a big oops if one wants to use the verse above as inerrant!), the epistles of John, Jude, and Revelation. That’s a lot of New Testament books that have absolutely no reason to be called “scripture” or “God-breathed” according to the Bible’s own standards. That’s Strike Three.
But for the big Strike Four, one could never use the Bible as justification for its own purported divine status. That’s the epitome of circular reasoning. I have never understood why so many pastors use that reasoning. They are teaching irrationality.
There are other problems with the New Testament in terms of transmission (like the earliest New Testament book was written over 30 years AFTER Jesus died – how well do you remember something that happened even 5 years ago?), but we’ll leave them be to go into different stuff.
The failure of Prayer
Prayer has always baffled me because it seems to be the height of arrogance. If God actually exists, why should anyone think that his or her tiny little wishes and desires should sway the Almighty who already knows everything ? If you think that prayer can change God’s mind, you are deluding yourself into thinking you are more important than you are. Your prayers wouldn’t make God do something God wasn’t already planning to do. Besides, most of the prayers you actually pray are never answered.
If one believes in God, the only way prayer makes sense is that it is just a simple talking with God. No requests. Just talking. Anything else is pointless.
The problem of evil
I got this from philosophy class.
(1) If God exists and is omnipotent, there is no evil He cannot prevent.
(2) If God exists and is omniscient, there is no evil He does not know about.
(3) If God exists and is morally perfect, there is no evil He would permit that He can prevent.
(4) If God exists, there is no evil. (logically equivalent to: if evil exists, God does not exist.)
(5) Evil exists.
(6) Therefore, God does not exist.
I’ve got more, but I think this is too long already.