Christianity is False and Its High Time to Accept It
What follows is an organized way of communicating what I’ve said thus far in a debate on Facebook; I apologize in advance for the length, but if you ever wanted more practical approaches to showing the many flaws of Christianity, here are some ways:
You do realize that atheists see “interpretative” as a copout? When a fact is too uncomfortable to read literally, it is considered allegory. I think Paul’s theology is quite clear about the first man called Adam. In fact, on Paul, Jesus’ entire sacrifice is contingent on the idea of a first man who brought sin and death; it’s dependent on some reading of the Fall in Genesis 3. Of course, I’m not going to push young-Earth or even old-Earth creationism on you or any Christian. I think the more elegant readings of Genesis 1-3 are allegorical. Allegories are no substitute for content though.
That is to say that some of the details are pertinent. Six days isn’t pertinent, but the idea of man and woman are. The idea of a separation from god, via a Fall from grace, is also important. Paul saw this and pounced on it. He made it pretty central to his theology, in fact. I don’t think that can be waved away so easily without sacrificing a cornerstone of Pauline theology. Paul in Romans 5 and 1 Corinthians 15 is quite clear about his explanation of sin and its origin. Without Paul’s interpretation, you’re left with wide-ranging conjecture–hence my suggestion that evolution and Christianity are incompatible.
Towards the end, you say that the biggest challenge to atheism is the improbability of abiogenesis. This seems to imply god of gaps reasoning, but I’ll set that aside. Evolution isn’t “only a theory.” I’m sure you’ve heard this and probably think this is an atheist’s way to insult your intelligence, but when we say that theory means something different in science, we aren’t trying to insult you. It’s a simple fact. Theory, colloquially, is a hunch. There’s a loud bang in your next door neighbor’s home and you say, “I have a hunch: Kathy dropped her iron again.” That’s not what science means by theory. A theory in science is a well-established representation of an actual phenomenon in nature; crucially, this means that Darwin’s evolution by natural selection is not synonymous with evolution as observed in nature. We know this because Darwin’s natural selection is not mutation or genetic drift, for example. Evolution occurs via five mechanisms, per se, and natural selection is but one of those five. So it isn’t only a theory; it is a well-established representation of evolution.
Also, evolution need not hinge on abiogenesis. You implied that a theist can accept evolution. Abiogenesis, however, does not have the issues you say it does. Michael Behe and others might cite information theory as a problem and, as they commonly do, they might even employ Hoyle’s fallacy to argue that the probability of abiogenesis is even lower than a junkyard tornado building a 747. This is disingenuous. For one, abiogenesis isn’t a theory; it is a term that describes a cluster of theories concerning the origins of life on Earth. I’ll be the first to admit that solving this puzzle comes with difficulty, but this difficulty shouldn’t discourage anyone so much that they move the buck into a supernatural explanation.
Put it this way, consciousness is also mysterious and yet, if one accepts evolution, namely gradual change in alleles and in populations over time, then consciousness arises naturally; even human consciousness and its perspicacity for quantitative reasoning and logic emerged without divine intervention. The human brain doesn’t escape the evolutionary portrait; it falls squarely within it and can be explained within the confines of the theory. Evolutionary biologists even speak of the evolution of brain regions and parts like the frontal lobe, neocortex, amgydala, and claustrum.
Given what I said above, the next extrapolation is that life emerged naturally as well. In a causally closed universe, this is very likely. Also, life is nothing more than animate chemistry, inorganic elements made organic. Chemists, and even I in my dim capacities as a student, are able to produce organic compounds from inorganic elements. Now all that one needs is a way to bring this to life and give it experience until one reaches all the way up to the higher mammalian brain. This picture is entirely consistent with the naturalism I espouse. Far from the biggest challenge to atheism, an atheist can rightfully anticipate that this is but another god-shaped gap that will be filled with future knowledge. God no longer occupies the gaps that once existed, e.g., the evolution of the eye; the diversity of life; morality; consciousness; the origin of the universe. Soon this gap will close as well and there will be no ignorance to point to.
My honest assessment: you’ve been led astray by the sophistry of apologists. Admittedly, they write in a clear manner and can be quite gifted in communicating their points. I can see why some people are seduced by what they say, but one can never forget that they have a vested interest at the start, which is to say that they started with a preferred conclusion and want nothing more than to prove it or, at the very least, show it to be rational. I don’t ignore that and that is why I consult more disinterested sources. Despite what people like Strobel and Behe claim, information theory presents no problems for abiogenesis. All of the issues present in the study are due to the nature of what’s being studied, namely life’s origins; it’s already a hard nut to crack, but that certainly doesn’t justify a move to the supernatural.
Commanding murder and carrying it out are morally equal. See 1 Samuel 15:3. That’s a command. Or consider the census of Israel. He murdered thousands via his angel; safe to say some were infants and children, don’t you think? How about the plague of the firstborns in the times of Pharaoh? I’m not a Christian because I’ve read the entire Bible. Curious that it’s god’s word, but few Christians care about everything he had to tell us. I realized very quickly that the Bible was neither inspired nor written by a benevolent god.
The Bible need not be read literally all the time, but there’s no way to read 1 Samuel 15 as an allegory. It was written as embellished history. Samuel was anointed of god, a prophet; god often spoke through him. When Saul was cast out and stripped of his kingdom, Samuel delivered that message. So when is god speaking and when is he not? Is it not him when it’s something this horrible?
Historical context: this sort of thing was acceptable as virtually all ancient religions have morally repulsive stories and epics like this. The early Israelites wanted to boast of a conquest that never occurred. They fabricated a history and in turn, proved their god to be nothing more than a figment of their own imaginations, a monster made in their own conqueror image. It’s not curious that war gods show up at different points in history, each having a peculiar interest in the group that believes in this god. Another case of the triangle believing god to have three sides… (And he writes and speaks their language too; what a coincidence!)
If the Bible, supposedly god’s word, reads “Thus the Lord said” or something like that, any reader should assume that the character of god is speaking. It’s like the red letters meant to show when Jesus is speaking. If Jesus suddenly said something deplorable, “bring my enemies to me and slay them before me,” it isn’t on the reader to decide that he didn’t really say that. The Bible is telling you and me that god actually said this–that, at some point in history, he saw such a command as moral. This isn’t in the context of a 3000 year old culture; this is in the context of a timeless entity, an entity who would presumably never issue such a command.
As for the New Testament, it seems you’re not yet as involved with Christianity as I was. The sacrifices of the OT were but a type of the ultimate sacrifice in the NT (see the book of Hebrews, specifically Paul’s explication of what Christ’s Priesthood entails). Abraham’s almost sacrifice of Isaac was an anticipation of Christ. Every sentient mammal that lost its life in these sacrifices were mere prelude to a living, breathing man dying to serve as our scapegoat. The blood sacrifice connects the OT and NT and tells us that the ancient war god of Israel didn’t really change much; he’s still as immoral as he was then, but has mercy now because he became man and died in our place. Yet this only makes sense given other details, like the Fall and aspects of Pauline theology that you appeared to reject earlier today.
I know of plenty of Christians who think god penned the Bible; they all think he inspired it, as in, inspired men to write exactly what they wrote and to an unknown purpose. Passages in the OT leave one perplexed and seem to have no real meaning at all. Leviticus is nonsense; we are reading about people being told about the correct way to sacrifice sheep and various animals, and which animals are deemed unclean.
I’ve given you my basis for morality three times now: one should never treat people as a means but always as an end in themselves. This isn’t my standard; this is Immanuel Kant’s prescription, a prescription that works better than Jesus’ egoist Golden Rule and other ethical theories like utilitarianism and normative relativism. It’s a clear cut standard: humans are autonomous, self-legilsating, rational beings. Sometimes these beings fail to recognize this in others and therefore, commit crimes against other people. That being the case, they are to be held accountable for their actions; we should not mete justice on their kin. As stated, god would have been privy to that truth already. Yet he visits the sins of the fathers up to four generations and punished an entire species for a vague Fall back in prehistory only to redeem us to him through a human sacrifice. It’s a barbaric story that doesn’t inspire me to belief. I can only look at it in disbelief–as I look at similar tales.
These last bits are very practical ways in which one can not only reject Christianity but debase it in its entirety. The OT and the NT are related blood covenants. Even Christians forget this as they sometimes try to draw a thick, rigid line to separate the two. They are not, by any means, separate, but are intertwined in an intimate way. In fact, you can’t read so-called Pauline theology without going back to read where he’s getting his ideas from. Christianity is false and its best for Christians to just leave atheists like myself alone. I have well-thought out and wide-ranging reasons for rejecting this religion: scientific, philosophical, ethical, anthropological, historical, and practical ways for rejecting this religion. If you are not interested in fielding the variety of ways I can challenge your religion, then it’s best to walk away. Stepping into a discussion will guarantee you getting frustrated and hurling insults and even threats. In six years debating these topics, it has been the most common experience. Christians are content in believing they’ve found the truth, so the realization that they might not know the truth is truly unnerving; for them to think that they might be wrong scares them to no end. I’m not afraid of being wrong; I have been. That’s why I no longer believe. Accept that and stop issuing a challenge you can’t handle.