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Reasons for Disbelief #1

By Wertbag ~

Many apologists will say that the arguments for God’s existence should be seen as a cumulative case rather than any single argument being a reason for belief on its own. This is understandable as the majority of arguments for God are second hand inference, God of the gaps or incredulity based, so as evidence goes none of it should not be convincing on its own.

The cumulative case works in both directions, as there are many reasons to disbelieve in a God’s existence, but any single argument may not be convincing on its own. With that in mind, this Reasons for Disbelief series addresses common reasons for disbelief and the rabbit hole of questions that these reasons lead to.

The Problem of Instruction

God gave the moral laws as laid out in the OT to a single tribe of Israelites but with an expiry date on the laws given, that being that they were only valid for that time and place. This means that before most of the world even knew such laws existed, they were already out of date and valueless to Christians. He didn't bother to let the giant empires; Roman, Persian, Chinese etc know of these moral codes, instead only letting this tiny group that would never grow into an empire be the sole recipients of that knowledge.

Not only did the OT fail to be spread to the biggest empires in existence, but the NT was similar in that it was only given to a small group of followers, and it would be another 1500 years before a printing press was invented allowing it to be distributed in large numbers. The claim is that God wants everyone to know His word, His laws and the only way to reach salvation, and yet the holy book that He wrote was not available to the majority of the world for millennia.

Was a book really the best way to give His perfect word to the world? Did He not foresee that it would be unclear to future generations and lead to debates, arguments, killing and even wars? There is the claim that He provided the 10 commandments on stone tablets, so they would survive over time, and yet those were quickly lost and to this day remain an ancient mystery. It is claimed He empowered numerous prophets to spread His message, granting them the abilities to do miracles on demand to prove themselves, and yet we’ve seen no such thing in thousands of years.

We have no original copies of the holy books, no confirmed dates or authors, no idea if we even have copies of half the things that were written, no idea if the books we do have accurately match the originals and no way to know which books we find were divinely inspired verse man-made. Is this really the best that an all-powerful God could do to get His message out?

The Problem of Evolution

The majority of Christians believe in evolution, I believe the Catholic church and many others have no problem with accepting the science as simply finding out how God achieved what He did. This is certainly preferable to the Fundamentalist idea that science is wrong or evil, as that stance takes a lot of denial and fighting against our growing knowledge. The acceptance of evolution does raise many tricky questions for Christians, such as when in an evolutionary line does the humanoid creature officially become human? You almost can’t have Adam and Eve as anything other than metaphor, as any point where they were born to an earlier ancestor messes up the Genesis story. Were their parents not human? Did the parents have souls? Were the parents in God’s image? But more than that, if we have hundreds of thousands of years of evolution before we get to modern humans, at what point does inherited sin enter the picture? If there is no true Genesis story then there is no first sin and no need for salvation. If there is a massive, long history of predator/prey relationships, then earth has had a blood-soaked history. This would mean death didn’t start in the garden of Eden but existed from the beginning of early life. This means God setup a system of death and suffering in order that those pressures cause creatures to evolve. It also means God used those natural tools to create millions of species that existed for a time and went extinct, millions of years before the first humans walked. If we are to have this human centric viewpoint, that we are God’s chosen, and yet millions of species have ceased to exist that we have never, and will never see, what was the point?

The Problem of Suffering/Evil

Possibly the most discussed issue with the Christian God is His lack of care for humanity. There are a few different versions of the problem of evil/suffering, we can look at the suffering caused by disease, parasites, natural disasters, accidents, and crime and ask why a God who is claimed to be all-loving would allow such things and a God who is all-powerful takes no steps to even reduce such harm. Commonly apologists will fall back on the freewill defence, saying that God doesn’t want robots, He gives us the ability to choose and sometimes we choose evil. While this might apply to crime, it doesn’t really work when looking at natural disasters or disease. But even in the case of crime, being able to stop someone from committing a horrific act should never be seen as a bad thing. If you knew a serial killer was going to murder someone and it was within your ability to stop them, would you? Could you really step aside and say “No, I don’t want to take away his freewill”? Imagine a world where child rapists were struck impotent, serial killers dropped dead, or suicide bombers went blind. Sure, you wouldn’t have the freewill to choose to rape children, but would anyone think that is a problem?

Many people have visited the refugee camps in Africa and see the children starving to death, the Aids epidemic sweeping the countries and even the horror of Ebola making people die bleeding from the eyes. The horrors of this world are numerous and unending, and to think that God either can’t or won’t help goes against everything being claimed of Him.

This can also be looked at from the other side, in that no religious group stands out as having a longer life expectancy, less disease, cancer, accidents or problems in their lives. Christians have their houses burgled, get mugged, have their loved ones pass away and suffer with the same frequency as the rest of the population. There is no sign that God is protecting His chosen people from harm.

Another way it can be looked at is the suffering of animals. God setup the entire ecosystem based on predator/prey relations. Animals are being constantly mauled to death and killed in horrific ways. For a loving God to design a system where such horror is the norm doesn’t match what we would think of as love. To think that God is the creator of all, means He created the venoms, the plagues, the life cycle of parasites, the flesh-eating bacteria and brain eating amoeba. As Monty Python put it:

All things sick and cancerous All evil great and small All things foul and dangerous The Lord God made them all

Originally posted in the Reasons for Disbelief thread on Ex-Christian.Net