Hessianwithteeth posted 10 reasons why they are not Christian and do not believe in many of the things a more typical Christian may believe (http://hessianwithteeth.wordpress.com/2014/10/28/10-reasons-why-im-not-a-christian/). I like, Hessianwithteeth, am not Christian, but am rather agnostic in regards to the question of the existence of a supernatural deity. I will not say that my beliefs coincide with Christians, but I would like to raise some points to respond to the reasons posted if only to generate some discussion.
1. “A creator is not required for the universe to exist as it is.”
This conjecture is not followed with scientific reasoning as to why this is. Rather, it is followed by appeals to how science has demystified and explained many concepts. However, what Science (specifically big S Science) has not shown is how the universe began. The Law of Conservation Matter dictates that matter cannot be created or destroyed, but no supported hypothesis exists that explains from where this matter originated. I agree that a creator is not strictly necessary to maintain the universe as is, but Science has yet to posit the beginning of the universe in an agreed upon way (though many believers in deities the world over have similar disagreements).
2. “The Bible is not convincing.”
I found this argument to be wanting. The evidence for this assertion is that many of the events may not have happened as exactly as described in the Bible and that the recordings of these potentially false events were made by several different authors. Again, though, this does not address the issue of being convincing; this merely addresses the issue of authorship.
For the first point, “convincing” really depends on what one seeks to gain by reading and believing in the Bible. The Bible is acknowledged by some to be allegorical, and others believe in it as literal. Some ascribe truth to select sections and not others. All of these people are “convinced” by the Bible and for them it is not a matter of reading a history book. That is the fundamental difference between the Bible and Science books.
To the second point, many who do acknowledge multiple authors may make the point that all of the authors (of the “correct” sections) were divinely inspired by the same god, making the idea of separate authors moot.
3. “I have never seen any miracles.”
This is an interesting reason, but I think that it is phrased incorrectly. I think the intention was “I have never seen anything not explainable by Science”. But on the other hand, seeing a “miracle” may just be a matter of perspective. When something happens that does not follow by reason, people often ascribe miraculous motivations. And even if Science can explain something to a degree, that does not guarantee that Science has elucidated “all there is to know” about the event. For instance, we could explain wind and how it “is” long before we understood how the Moon and tides affected climate the world over. We still cannot accurately model climate change. Does that make it a miracle?
4. “Christians disagree with each other over almost all aspects of their religion.”
This is true, and applies to any sort of belief (whether in a religion or Science). Scientists disagree with one another; philosophers famously don’t agree all the time. While it may be true that internal schisms exist in a belief structure or among believers who all prescribe to the same “doctrine” (even though often it is the same in name only), that does not make it inherently worse; this simply means there are different interpretations. Don’t like one interpretation? Find another. The truth does not rest on what people believe and agree about.
5. “I don’t need God to be good.”
This is a good reason to not be a Christian. Among the many reasons given, this one I agree with the most. However, Hessianwithteeth then goes on to say that philosophy has taught them that morality is subjective (and thus can vary from person to person). If that is not a fault of non-divine morality, then why is variance among believers in a religion a fault with them?
6. “Even if the Bible was convincing, the Christian God isn’t worth worshiping.”
This is a value judgment that has no real basis in objective reasoning (which does not mean it is wrong). But the examples given a examples of acts that people may find disagreeable. In the same vein, a good counterargument would be that God has done many charitable acts as well and it was humans who have created more and more ways to destroy each other and eviscerate people we don’t like. God doesn’t kill people anymore; we kill each other.
7. “Of all the religions that exist, I see no reason why the Christian religion is more likely to be true than the rest of them.”
While I agree with the premise, the reasoning that no evidence exists for other religions either can be seen as false as different religions take different evidence of their own beliefs (this is also the reason for the big schism between Science and Religion). Evidence is not one thing; empirical evidence is used to prove empirical facts. For many, their religion is supernatural and thus empirical evidence in the natural realm will never sway them one way or another.
8. “Too many churches teach hate and encourage their congregants to view themselves as superior to all other humans.”
While this is contemptible, not all churches of all religions across the world are equally as malicious or hateful. While there are no doubt examples of churches and groups like this, there are just as many (if not more) that are accepting, tolerant, and in some cases, loving of others. And the viewing oneself as superior is by no means exclusive to any one group of people. Many believers in Science feel that same superiority and I do not believe it comes from thinking of oneself as “better” than another, but rather from the idea that you hold “the Truth” and are backing the right horse in the race. That’s a human condition not exclusive to religion.
9. “I don’t believe anyone deserves an infinite punishment for a finite crime.”
This is actually a great point that is the most philosophical out of the bunch. However, it is an abstraction with no basis in empirical reason, and that means that in a debate of ideals, according to Hessianwithteeth, there is no reason to believe it is correct. However, I must point out that as an idea, it is appealing.
10. “I see nothing wrong with not knowing the answer.”
This is probably my favorite since it resonates strongly with me. However, I go beyond Hessianwithteeth’s atheism in believing that a theology may be true; I have no supernatural evidence to prove one supernatural claim more correct than another. If we must say that all of existence is natural, then answers are more clear. However, existence has not been cut down to only the natural. I also hope this post has demonstrated that my skepticism runs deep even in the things I would agree with.
That is my response to the 10 points raised. The post is worth reading and I commend Hessianwithteeth on writing it. I would like to note that while I am no apologist for any religion, I do believe in generating discussion and defending the indefensible or at least making sure another side of an argument can be heard.