Childlike Faith

Why is it acceptable to have childlike faith when it comes to Christianity, but we are expected to evaluate other religions with critical thinking skills?

Recently I’ve had a couple of conversations with theist bloggers that have really left a sour taste in my mouth in regards to this idea of childlike faith.

The first was a gentleman who was actively trying to proselytize to me. So I asked him “why should I believe your god and not someone else’s”  to which he would respond that Jesus was the only God to die to save the world. This of course is not accurate statement of world religions, but setting that aside, even if he was that isn’t a reason to believe Christianity over another religion. Right off the bat Islam and Judaism are going to counter that claim, so I pushed again “why should I believe Christianity over Islam.” He had two suggestions for me, first that I needed to diligently seek after (his) God, and if I did I would find him. And second that I needed to just believe, and that answers would come later.

Now I live in a major US city and work for a large university. I encounter many people of differing religious beliefs on a daily basis. If I treated every religion the way this individual wanted me to treat Christianity, basically sans any critical thinking skills, I would be changing my religion more than a freshman changed majors. Somehow I don’t think he would be supportive if I “just accepted” Christianity today and “just accepted” Islam tomorrow.

So this whole concept of “childlike faith” seems, well childish. But apparently you can’t get into heaven without it according to Matthew 18:3. I don’t understand why this doesn’t offend more Christians. After all, we convince children that a fat man in a red suit can fly around the world in a single night delivering toys created by elves in a workshop at the North Pole, squeezing down non existent chimneys all along the way. Children are, in effect, stupid. No disparagement is meant, they just lack the critical thinking skills to evaluate information effectively.  And this is how Jesus wants you to be or you can’t go to heaven. This seems incredibly insulting to me, does anyone else feel this way?

The Blood of Christ

Not getting into whether or not the figure known as Jesus Christ is an actual, real, historical figure or not. Has anybody wondered what would have happened if the Romans had chosen to strangle, drown, suffocate, or otherwise kill Jesus without any blood letting, would his death still have “washed” the sins of the world? Or was literal blood spilling necessary? 

The Great and Powerful Oz

I am always amazed and the sheer number of Christians who do not believe in an All-Powerful God. In my experience this is actually all of Christianity, no seriously, I’m not generalizing here. Naturally Christians will of course pay lip-service to their Omnipotent God, their God who is so powerful he created the universe out of nothing, but if you engage with any Christian for longer than five minutes on some of the stickier issues of Christianity, they always reduce God to no more than a man standing behind a curtain. Let me explain by looking at a few common arguments I hear when I am engaging with Christians.

Slavery

First up is a favorite topic of mine, Old Testament slavery. Now most reasonable people agree the slavery is a bad things, even Bible believing Christians will profess to believe that. But where do Christians come by that belief since slavery is clearly approved throughout the OT, to the point of being regulated and even encouraged by their God who can do no wrong? The argument from Christians here is that of course the Great and Powerful Oz would never ever approve of slavery and genocide, but the man behind the current was limited by the reality of the culture of the time. And they will actually say “God was limited” so that should be a major red flag. This is the God who created the universe from nothing, but he can’t forbid his chosen people from engaging in owning other human beings because it is a reality of the culture of the time?  On its face this is absurd because starting in the OT and continuing to Christians today, followers of the Biblical God are constantly being told not to be like the cultures around them. In the OT it deal particularly with what gods they worship (obviously) how they worship God, not engaging in human sacrifices, what foods they can eat and so on. So I don’t see why an all-powerful God can’t make not owning slaves just another way the Israelites are supposed to be different from the cultures around them Probably the most common follow up I hear is “God knew the Israelites wouldn’t be able to follow a no slaves policy so he regulated it to make it less harsh then how the surrounding cultures treated their slaves.” First off, that is just categorically false and if you spent any time reading OT slavery laws you would see that. Second, the way I understand it, as Christians will point out every and anytime an atheist brings up the OT that the whole purpose of the OT laws were to show the Israelites they could not follow all of the laws, so what is one more law that the Israelites would break? Finally (although this is by no means an exhaustive list), that perhaps there were economic reasons as to why it was necessary for God to allow slavery. They of course believe this is the same God who fed 2-3 million people with literal bread from heaven for forty years, so I’m confident that he could have shielded his chosen people from any negative impact  resulting from a non existent slave trade. And this is all of course without mentioning that an omniscient God could have superseded culture by giving laws before their was a culture, like when he created the first man and woman, or when he saved only seven people from a global flood. Or that he didn’t seem to be limited by culture when he destroyed the whole world in a flood or wiped Sodom and Gomorrah off the face of the planet. So this line of thinking doesn’t track. Christians either need to come to terms that their God is totally okay with something they believe to be morally repugnant, or that God is in fact not all-powerful enough to even outlaw it from his own people.

Hell

The concept of Hell has plagued Christians for centuries and so many will try to argue away eternal torture as a necessity. But of course with an all powerful God nothing is a necessity, everything is a conscious choice. Christians will say that God is too Holy and to Pure for anything that is not pure and holy to exist in his presence, therefore our immortal souls have to spend eternity somewhere. There are, as you would expect, a number of problems with this line of thinking in consideration of an all-powerful deity. For starters if God is all-powerful than he can, in fact, allow a sinful person into his presence without affecting his holiness or pureness. Also if God is omnipresent as Christians claim than sinful people are constantly in his presence because he is present everywhere, in fact God will even be present in Hell, that is what omnipresent means. Furthermore, in the first chapter of Job we see Satan presenting himself in the Lord’s presence, so so much for that theory. Also immortal souls don’t have to spend eternity anywhere, If God can blink them into existence, he can blink them out of existence just as easily, so an all-powerful God could have created heaven without needing a hell. Even if Hell the location is necessary, which is isn’t, the fire, brimstone, and eternal torture are aesthetic choices God has intentionally made, and keep in mind this is torture not punishment, punishment is designed to modify/correct future behavior, Hell is, by intentional design, continuous and eternal, there is no getting out of it once you are there. So here, Christians have to come to terms with either God somehow finds burning people for eternity pleasing and good, or he is not all-powerful enough to stop it.

The Crucifixion

The argument here is the world has grown so wicked that the only way to “save” it was for God to send his son (by impregnating a thirteen-year-old girl, also totally unnecessary), in order to die by crucifixion so that his blood could wash away the sins of the world, but only if you ask for it. This is of course replacing the atonement in the OT by slaughtering animals. It seems this “all-powerful” deity has an unhealthy reliance on blood-magic to actually be able to accomplish anything. An all-powerful deity could of course just forgive the sins of those who asked (or even if they didn’t), no blood magic necessary. And that is really the kicker with Christianity, the central component to the faith, the so-called necessary death and resurrection of the savior Jesus Christ, even if it really truly did happen, it is just completely unnecessary theater. Here Christians need to come to terms that either God is reliant on blood-magic to accomplish his goals, or the death and resurrection of Jesus was a marketing ploy to make Christianity more appealing.

So those were a few instances where Christians have indicated to me that they don’t actually believe in an all-powerful God as they keep trying to limit his power. I encourage you to push back anytime you hear a Christian claim it was necessary for God to, God had to, or God was limited by, and see if they believe that God really is all-powerful or not.