46. Genesis 10:5 says that at that time, different peoples had different languages; Genesis 11:1, just a few verses down, says that there was only one language in the world. Which do you believe?
If you read all of Genesis 10 (a genealogy of the descendents of Noah), the answer to this apparent dilemma is right there. Let me give you an example: "And unto Eber were born two sons: the name of one was Peleg; for in his days was the earth divided; and his brother's name was Joktan. And Joktan begat Almodad, and Sheleph, and Hazar-maveth, and Jerah," (Genesis 10:25-26) There are people included in these genealogies who lived after the Earth was divided by the Tower of Babel. This is why these passages make mention of certain people having different languages, even though these passages are included before the mention of the Tower of Babel.
47. According to your God, if a girl gets married and it turns out she wasn't a virgin, she deserves the death penalty (Deuteronomy 22:13-21) ... but the same rule doesn't apply to males. Why does God discriminate against females?
There are other laws that apply to men but not women, such as one of the ten commandments (the one against coveting), and laws against rape, and only female children were spared among the Midianites. So why aren't you asking why God discriminates against males? Perhaps you're reading the Bible with blinders on?
Let's imagine that a man (not God) wrote the Bible — no divine inspiration or "supreme wisdom" whatsoever. Let's say it was a man (or several men) who lived in a primitive pre-technological patriarchal society a few thousand years ago. What kind of book would we expect?
Let's see ...
it would reflect the attitudes of that period in that women would be property, just like cattle ...
rape would be okay, at least in the context of "the spoils of war" ...
violence would be a casual thing, and the beating of children would be permissible ...
Nope and nope.
God would, of course, be a male ...
Which would also be true if God wanted us to consider Him as a male-type deity.
the adultery laws/virginity requirements would apply only to women ...
Of the two, only the virginity requirement does.
there wouldn't be any scientific revelation in it at all, since it would merely be a product of its (primitive) time ...
Genesis 1:1's statement of time and the universe having a beginning only started to gain acceptance in the scientific community within the last 125 years.
old age would be revered, and there would be tall tales about people living to be hundreds of years old (all of them men, of course) ...
Yeah, since only people, and not God, would revere the elderly...
children would have no rights whatsoever...
What kind of rights do you mean?
there would be no tolerance of other cultures,
The only thing they don't tolerate from other cultures is attempts to enslave or kill the Israelites.
and when another nation was conquered, its inhabitants would be slaughtered like animals (an exception, I suppose, to the "Thou shalt not kill" rule), or their people could be forced into slavery.
Yeah, it would be a whole lot better if the Israelites just let the other nations commit genocide upon them.
Is this beginning to sound familiar?
48. All throughout the Bible, it seems that God's solution to every problem involves death and blood.
Only if you're reading it with blinders on.
He can't even forgive sin unless there's blood dripping somewhere (Hebrews 9:22). Wouldn't you expect the creator of the universe (the guy who invented positrons, quarks, and neutrinos, and put nipples on men) to have a little more imagination than this?
Actually, I expect people reading the Bible to look at the whole thing, and not just those passages they don't like.
By the way, are YOU able to forgive sin without somebody (or some animal) bleeding? Doesn't this make you morally superior to Biblegod?
Since I'm unable to forgive sins on the scale that God does, He's definitely superior to me.
49. God couldn't forgive your sin without an innocent person (Jesus) suffering. What does it say about the character of your God that he insists on torturing his own son to appease himself? What horrible thing would I have to do to you that you would demand the hideous torture-death of your own son ... that is, nothing else would satisfy you ... you'd insist on your own child being hung on a wooden cross by nails driven into his little hands and feet? And what would this say about you as a person? And how would it constitute evidence that you were "too holy to allow sin into your presence?"
You do realize that Jesus willingly went to the cross, right? And that one act led to thousands of years over which billions of sins were forgiven.
In fact, since Satan caused all the sin (by tempting us and lying to us), why didn't Biblegod crucify him?
Satan did not cause all the sin. Most sin is done without satan's prodding.
While Jesus was suffering and bleeding, God allowed Satan to stand there on the sidelines, snickering and enjoying the spectacle.
Not realizing what Jesus' sacrifice meant for him...
50. And tell me, what is noble and majestic about demanding the death of your own son for any reason? Would this be characteristic of a god, or of a twisted, sadistic fiend?
Again, Jesus, who was the spirit of God manifested into a fleshly body, went willingly.
And don't tell me that "God demands a perfect sacrifice, because he is holy and perfect." BS! He's God, the all-powerful all-knowing all-everything Supreme Being. He makes ALL the rules. That "perfect sacrifice" argument makes as much sense as saying, "God is perfect, so he demands 25 cents per sin." God could have made a divine law that we have to eat a pretzel for every sin we commit, or that we have to paint our toenails green and do cartwheels to atone for our sins.
Yeah, and we wouldn't be able to realize the gravity of our sins if the atonement was so light.
51. Do you use the King James Version of the Bible?
Are you aware that the 1611 edition (the original) contained more than 66 books (it had Tobit and Judith right in there with I John and II Corinthians)?
Have you ever read any of the "missing" books?
No, but my sister-in-law, who converted to Catholicism a few years back, read them and didn't see why they were significant.
Do you know why they aren't in your KJV?
Since I attend a Lutheran church, I sure do.
Do you, in fact, know anything about the "extra books?"
52. Nehemiah 7:66 says, "[T]he whole congregation together was forty and two thousand three hundred and three-score (42,360)." But if you add the figures between Nehemiah 7:8 and Nehemiah 7:62, the total for all the tribes is 31,089, not 42,360 (an error of 11,271). And Ezra and Nehemiah can't agree on what the total should be; the former supports 29,818 while the latter asserts 31,089. How do you explain this?
By actually reading Nehemiah 7. If you go back to verse 5b, it says, "And I found a register of the genealogy of them which came up at the first, and found written therein," which means that Nehemiah is reporting the contents of a register he found. No one is saying that the register's numbers add up properly. This would only be an error on the part of Nehemiah if he incorrectly reported what the register said, and there's no reason to suppose that he did. If the register was wrong, blame the register.
Are God's ways so far beyond our own poor powers of understanding (Isaiah 55:9) that even his math is different? Can Biblegod make two plus two equal five?
Nope, but if God said "Bill said that two plus two equals five", I would say that Bill was wrong, not God.
53. I just got through reading Matthew 25:41ff. Do you think it's appropriate for a person to be punished with eternal torture because he fails to give food to a hungry person?
Nope, and I don't believe that the afterlife involves eternal torture.
If your answer is "yes," then what punishment would be appropriate for Hitler, who murdered six million Jews?
My answer wasn't yes, so I won't respond except to say that Hitler's punishment should correspond to his sins.
54. The National Review Board gave a report of sex abuse committed by Catholic priests in the United States between 1950 and 2002. Four percent, or one out of every 25 priests, had been formally accused of sexually abusing minors. Which do you think is safer for your child: to be alone with a Christian priest, or to walk through a city park at 11:00 pm?
You do know that not all Christian priests are Catholic priests, right? And you know that an accusation is not proof of guilt, right? I'm only asking because your question seems to confuse both points. I wonder why. Tell me how many were convicted, please. By the way, I have no problem leaving my kids alone with the priest of our church, who is Christian but not Catholic.
Think for a minute ... when was the last time you read a newspaper article (or saw a news item on TV) about a member of the Wiccan clergy sexually abusing a child? Or the Islamic clergy? ?Or a Buddhist priest?
Yeah, if it's not reported in a newspaper or on TV, then it never happens...
55. Are you aware that your God has threatened (four different times, in four different books of the Bible!) to make people cannibalize their own children as a form of punishment?
(1) Leviticus 26:29;
(2) Deuteronomy 28:53;
(3) Jeremiah 19:9;
(4) Ezekiel 5:10.
II Kings 6:28-29 even tells a story in which someone actually did it (ate her own child)! Would you teach these verses to your children during a home Bible study?
Depends on the age of my kids. I think they'd be too strong for younger kids, but okay for teenagers who would have a better understanding of the context.
Are there other disgusting passages in the Bible (II Kings 9:10, II Kings 18:27) that you believe children should be protected from?
Depends on their age. Some passages certainly aren't appropriate for younger kids.
What would you think of me if I read these disgusting passages to your child?
The same way I'd feel if you showed them a particularly violent film.
Shouldn't the Bible be removed from the libraries of elementary schools?
Of course not. I just think the teachers should focus on other passages until the kids get older. If the kids happen to come across them and are troubled, then the school should try to explain to them what was going on.
What sins or crimes do you believe would justify a sentence of "you must eat your own children?"
"You must?" None. And none of the passages say "you must".
And by the way ... doesn't this punish the (innocent) children also? Where is the justice in making them die (and be eaten!) because somebody else has sinned?
If I (as the people these verses are talking about) make a series of stupid and ungodly decisions making my place in life so poor that I end up having to eat my own children to survive, then I am the one at fault.
In fact, the story of Job illustrates very clearly God's attitude toward children. Job has children; God allows Satan to kill them (as a way of testing Job's faith). At the end of the story (Job 42:13), God "restores" Job's children ... by letting him father some new ones. Got that? God allows Satan to take Job's property ... his sheep, camels, oxen, donkeys, and his children. Then God restores Job's property ... sheep, camels, oxen, donkeys, and his children.
This is great for Job, but what about the human children that God originally allowed to be killed along with the livestock?
They weren't children. They were adults. I am the child of my mother and father, yet I am an adult.
Pardon me for not wanting to spend eternity with this twisted son of a bitch (or should I say ... Son of a Bitch?).
Actually, I understand. If you don't credit God with creating and thus having dominion over life, then you must think He has no right to take life away. It's a very consistent view for a non-believer, and I don't fault you for it. But, when criticizing the Bible, it's more consistent if you assume, just for the sake of the story, that God does have dominion over life. I'm not telling you to believe in God or to believe that God has dominion over life, just to consider God 's actions within the context of the story.
56. Do you believe the creation account in Genesis? Which one? Genesis 1:1ff or Genesis 2:4ff? Sometime, just for fun, try to reconcile these two different accounts of the same incident.
I take the early Genesis accounts as parable, not literal fact, though I do think that Genesis 1 has enough of the order correct, and enough other details, to suppose that God very much inspired it. But I don't see how the two chapters aren't reconcilable for anyone who takes both literally, since one is talking about the universe as a whole and one is talking about what's happening specifically in the garden of Eden.
57. In Exodus 7:13, we read that God wanted Pharaoh to do something, but that God hardened Pharaoh's heart so that he wouldn't listen to God. What does this tell you about the character of your God?
That He gives people what they ask for. Are you telling me the Pharaoh didn't harden his own heart first, on several occasions?
Is it any wonder that the colloquial term "playing God" refers to something one shouldn't do?
So does "impersonating a police officer", but it doesn't mean that police officers are evil, just that they have the right to do things that non-police officers don't.
58. Jesus said that "Whoever is not with me is against me" (Luke 11.23); he also said "Whoever is not against us is for us" (Matthew 9:40). Which statement do you believe?
Both. How are these contradictory?
59. Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, and Billy Graham's daughter all believe (and have stated publicly) that the attack on the Twin Towers (September 11, 2001) happened because (1) America had become sinful, and was permitting abortion, witchcraft, and lesbianism; (2) God got mad at America; and (3) God "removed his protection" from us. Do you believe this?
Do you believe that God killed thousands of New Yorkers that I had never met in my life, just because I and my friends cast a few spells down here in Texas?
No. And none of the above said that God killed them, only that He didn't protect them.
Is this God worthy of your worship, or your contempt?
60. Do you believe that Jack T. Chick is a Christian?
Honestly, I'm not sure. His tracts come across as parody to me sometimes, like he's someone trying to make fun of Christian fundamentalism. But other times he seems sorta sincere, so I'm guessing he's a Christian, though not a very good example of one.
HE thinks he's a Christian (and probably thinks you're NOT).
Probably. I listen to rock music and play Dungeons and Dragons, both of which he believes are satanic. He even thinks Christian rock is satanic.
Would you like to spend eternity with him in heaven?
If he's truly a Christian, just a seriously misguided one, I'm hoping he'd be straightened out by God. If not, I'm going to hope Heaven is a big place so I don't have to spend too much time in his presence. I wonder what he's going to think when he sees all those Catholics walking around?
61. I read in I Corinthians 5:11 that a Christian should not associate with another Christian who is greedy or who is a "slanderer." It is ordered, by your God, that you shouldn't even eat with such a person. Have you ever obeyed this commandment?
I've never disobeyed it, so I guess I've been obeying it every moment of my life.
Have you ever left the dinner table because a greedy Christian sat down to eat with you?
I've never had someone who I knew was a greedy Christian sit down to eat with me, so no.
Have you ever seen, or even heard of, anyone who actually obeyed this commandment?
I've never seen or heard of anyone who knowingly disobeyed it. Maybe you can find me an example, and if so, yep, there's someone who disobeyed it. People, even Christians, disobey God all the time, so it wouldn't be too shocking.
62. God has ordered repeatedly (in the NEW Testament) that wives should submit themselves to their husbands (Ephesians 5:22; I Peter 3:1; Colossians 3:18).
And that husbands should submit themselves to their wives. It's in Ephesians 5:21, the verse just before one you used as a reference, so how did you miss that? Take off the blinders, please. The Bible also says that the younger should submit themselves to their elders (1 Peter 5:5). Do you think submitting is a bad thing? No, it's a sign of respect.
These commandments are much, much clearer than anything the Bible may say about abortion (and I contend that the Bible says nothing about abortion).
Because among the ancient Israelites, abortion was a foolish thing to do. It would be like saying "don't swallow shards of broken glass".
Going strictly by the Bible, it is obvious that a wife disobeying a direct order from her husband is a much more serious sin than aborting a fetus.
Only obvious to someone looking for reasons to hate the Bible. Are you honestly saying that if one transgression is brought up multiple times and another not at all, that means the first transgression is more serious? Really? So if I told you that I'm frequently telling my kids not to leave dirty dishes in the TV room, but have never told my kids not to boil our cat alive, you would conclude that I consider leaving dirty dishes around to be a worse offense than boiling a cat alive? If one uses common sense, they wouldn't even give that thought a moment's consideration. So why not use the same common sense when looking at the Bible?
If you are a wife, do you obey this Scriptural commandment? If you don't, why do you call yourself a Christian?
If you are a Christian husband, do you demand that your wife obey the Lord in this area?
Yes, and I obey Ephesians 5:21. We have mutual respect for each other.
If not, why not? Don't you have the guts to demand that your wife live according to the Word of God? Don't you have the guts to exercise authority that was given to you by the creator of the entire universe?
I answered yes, so I'll skip this one.
Which are you more concerned about: (a) God's commandment or (b) being politically correct?
I'm not a fan of political correctness at all, so I'll choose (a)
Would you complain if your wife disobeyed the Bible in other areas of her life, for instance, if she committed adultery or murder?
Do you belong to a church where this commandment is regularly disobeyed by the women of the church?
I don't pry into their personal lives, so I can't say for sure. But I don't observe husbands and wives openly disrespecting each other at church.
Can you explain to me why Christian men protest in public (and commit criminal acts of harrassment) over abortion, but don't protest about disobedient wives?
Who would they protest to? Really, I'd like to know. Is the government or the media in charge of spousal disobedience? Are their spousal disobedience clinics?
Could it be that modern-day Christians only pretend to live according to the Bible, ignoring the more "difficult" commandments?
Some do, I'm sure.
63. In March 2004, Mel Gibson released a movie about Jesus. All of the actors in the movie speak their lines in either (1) Aramaic or (2) Latin. Neither of these two languages is actually spoken (as the lingua franca) in any country anywhere on earth. Do you think Mel Gibson was stupid for shooting a movie about Jesus in two languages that nobody on earth actually uses in ordinary speech?
Considering how popular the movie was, apparently not. Honestly, had he done it in English, I probably would have liked it less, myself, since it would have been that much more like every other film they've made based on the Gospels. Though I'm very glad he used subtitles, since I remembering hearing talk, before it came out, that he wasn't even going to do that.
Out of curiosity, do you have the same problem with his follow-up, "Apocalypto"? Or do you actually only have a problem with "The Passion" since it's about Jesus?
Do you realize that, for the first time in history, a movie has been made that MUST include subtitles absolutely everywhere it is shown, anywhere on earth?
Yes. Does God say "thou shalt not use subtitles"?
Do you believe that Mel Gibson was on some kind of ego trip, just "showing off," wanting to make a movie that was painfully "authentic" without regard for any practical considerations?
No. I think the viewers who watched it, for the most part, were interested in its authenticity. I know I was.
[Dateline March 3, 2004] The number "666" is appearing on movie tickets for Gibson's film at a Georgia theater, drawing complaints from some moviegoers. The machine that prints tickets assigned the number 666 as a prefix on all the tickets for the film. The 666 begins a series of numbers that are listed below the name of the movie, the date, the time, and the price.
I was at a raffle at my kids' Christian school and a raffle number they drew ended in "666". Everyone had a good laugh over it.
64. I John 5:16-17 talks about a "sin unto death" that one should not pray about. What sin is that? And please back up your answer with Scripture.
I believe it means any sin which is not forgiven. Honestly, I'm not certain.
65. Which of the big-time evangelists do you trust, and which do you think are phonies? Robert Tilton? Billy Graham? Peter Popoff? Benny Hinn? Marilyn Hickey? John Agee? John Ankerberg?
I don't always agree with Billy Graham, but I have little doubt that he is a sincere Christian. It's my opinion that Tilton is probably not a Christian but is a con-man just trying to get money. Hinn is probably a Christian, but a very misguided and greedy one (yes, I wouldn't sit down to dinner with him). The rest I'm not familiar with.
By the way, my favorite Christian singer, Steve Taylor (I run a fan site at www.OnFritz.com), has done songs attacking Robert Tilton ("Cash Cow"), Bob Jones ("We Don't Need No Colour Code"), Jim Bakker ("Under The Blood" - really more about Bakker's followers than Bakker himself) and Jimmy Swaggert ("Guilty By Association"). The lyrics are at that site, if you're interested.
66. In the gospel according to Matthew, which was written around 65 CE, we are promised that the second coming of Jesus will be very soon (Matthew 24:34;); in fact, Christians in the First Century C.E. thought he would return during their own lifetimes (II Thessalonians 2:1-2). Well, about 19 centuries have come and gone ... do you still believe that Jesus is actually going to return?
He already did, at least in the sense that He was talking about in the Gospels.
In 70 A.D. His "return" was the judgment upon Jerusalem that happened that year.
In another 19 centuries, perhaps? Do you believe that it could be "any day now?" If your answer is "yes," do you believe that the revelation of the "man of sin" has already occurred (II Thessalonians 2:3) — which is a prerequisite for the second coming? Who do you believe the "man of sin" to be? When and where (and how) was he revealed?
All of that assumes a different answer than what I gave, so I won't respond. For the record, I'm a preterist. If you aren't sure what that means, Google the word.
And speaking of the Rapture ... have you left your Rapture letter for the benefit of those of us who will be Left Behind?
No, I don't take obviously metaphorical statements to be literal.
67. Are you aware that there are many pre-Christian myths about a god-man who comes to earth, is born of a virgin, sacrifices himself, and is resurrected?
No, there aren't any. If you claim there are, just point me to books or websites which give the actual stories in which those happen and are not specifically trying to draw parallels to Jesus (in other words, don't feel the need to mention Jesus at all). And name scholars, other than those trying to make parallels to Jesus, who believe those stories to be pre-Christian.
That some of those pre-Christian myths include stories about the miraculous feeding of multitudes, the healing of sick people, and walking on water?
Feeding of multitudes (at least in the miraculous sense), no. Healing of the sick, yes (though this isn't necessarily miraculous), and the only pre-Christian story of walking on water is in the Buddha story, but it's not Buddha walking on water, so it's not a comparison to Jesus Himself. But considering all of the vast differences, a few minor similarities aren't significant. You can find similarities between any two stories, real or fictional, if you try hard enough.
Do you have an explanation for how these stories, which existed before Jesus was ever born, could be so similar to the Gospel accounts?
There aren't any that are particularly similar to Gospel accounts.
I have a website debunking this whole "copycat Jesus" approach at http://www.KingDavid8.com/Copycat/Home.html
68. Do you believe that a person who is 99.999% morally perfect, and commits only a few minor sins in his lifetime (no murder, rape, theft, adultery, or violence) deserves to suffer in hell for all eternity, just because he fails to "accept Jesus" (a term that's interpreted 8,000 ways by 6,000 different Christian groups)?
I don't believe that hell is place of physical suffering, so no. And I doubt "accept Jesus" is interpreted 8000 ways.
If it were up to you — if you had the power to make the decision — would YOU sentence Mr. 99.999% to an afterlife of perpetual suffering?
No, and neither would God.
If your answer is "yes," why do you think this is fair? Do you realize that your God would send such a person to hell, forever?
Yes, but not to a state of eternal physical suffering.
Are you perhaps more merciful and compassionate than your own God?
Of course not. If people sinned against me at the level at which they sin against God, I seriously doubt I'd be able to forgive them. I certainly wouldn't give one of my kids the option of being crucified for them.
What if the only sin he ever committed in his whole life was planting a field with two different kinds of seed (Leviticus 19:19)? When he dies ... hell, or no hell?
Hell, where he'd feel the level of shame in balance to this one sin, which isn't much.
69. Which do you believe is more psychologically harmful to a child: being sexually fondled by an adult, or being threatened with eternal, unending torture in a burning, fiery hell?
Being sexually fondled by an adult, of course. I grew up as an atheist and was told I was going to hell. Since I didn't believe it, it didn't phase me much. However, my best friend was sexually fondled by an adult when he was young, and it caused repeated nightmares which drove him to attempting suicide, among other problems. Despite years of therapy and the passing of three decades, he's still having trouble dealing with it.
70. Do you believe that witches are Satan-worshippers?
If so, why? Do you assume for some reason that modern-day witches are lying when they say they don't believe in Satan? Would you actually be disappointed if witches didn't believe in Satan, thus ruining your preconceived notions about them?
Since I answered no, I won't respond to the rest.
71. In I Samuel 16:14, we read that "an evil spirit from the Lord" troubled King Saul. Why do you worship a God who sends evil spirits to trouble people?
Because Saul deserved it, of course.
How would you like it if he sent one of his evil spirits to trouble YOU?
Depends if I deserved it or not.
72. If your own child disobeyed you, would you lock him in an oven, set the temperature to 550, and turn it on?
Is it possible that you have better moral sense than the God of the Bible?
Since God doesn't do that, either - no.
73. Do you believe that some of the commandments in the Old Testament don't apply to Christians?
Any which applied specifically to the ancient Israelites only.
Does the OT commandment against adultery apply to modern-day Christians?
Yes, since it was reinforced many times in the New Testament.
What about the commandment not to wear clothing woven of two different kinds of material (Leviticus 19:19)?
Why does one OT commandment apply and not the other?
Because they weren't all the same. Some were moral absolutes, and others were intended for those people at that time. In fact, some laws applied to some tribes but not others (many of the Levitical laws were only for the Levites, not other Israelites)
How do you decide which Old Testament commandments are still valid?
74. Around the time Jesus was born, Herod ordered the murder of innocent children (Matthew 2:16); in the time of Moses, God killed the firsborn of every household (Exodus 11:4-5) — innocent children. How is God morally superior to King Herod?
Because God has dominion over life and Herod does not - and God did it to free the Israelites so that the savior could be born, while Herod did it in an attempt to kill the savior.
75. In I Corinthians 15:29, we read about being baptized for the dead. What does this mean, please?
I'm not quite sure. I think it's like a wake, a symbolic ceremony.
76. Matthew 7:1 orders Christians not to pass judgment. I Corinthians 2:15 says that a spiritual man passes judgment on everything. Which is it? A Christian being judgmental — is that good or bad?
Read Matthew again. Matthew doesn't say not to judge at all, just not to judge hypocritically.
77. In 1994, Christian singer Michael English, then 32, won six "Dove Awards" for his music. He later gave them back, saying it was because of "mistakes" he had made. In fact, he had been carrying on an adulterous relationship with one Marabeth Jordan, another "Gospel singer" who was also married (they hooked up while they were on a tour together, raising money for a home for unwed mothers. It was during this tour that Mr. English impregnated Ms. Jordan). Question: Do you have any Michael English recordings in your possession?
Do you plan to keep them, or destroy them?
Since, I don't have any, I won't answer.
If one of his songs were playing on the radio (how about "Mary Did You Know?"), would you turn it off?
It depends. Do his songs suck? I know (and moderately like) the song "Mary Did You Know", but am only familiar with a version of it by a female country singer. Kathy Mattea, maybe? If I recall correctly, English was just covering the song himself, that it was written and originally recorded by singer/comedian Mark Lowry, whose version I haven't heard.
But to get to the heart of your question, I don't base what I listen to on the personal lives of the performers, since I can't really know their personal lives. What we know about them is, at worst, tabloid or P.R. illusion, and, at best, just the tip of the iceberg. If I refused to listen to English because he committed adultery and instead listened to some other artists, how would I know that those artists haven't also committed adultery (or some other really bad sin) and just managed to get away with it? Should I single out English just because he happened to 'fess up? How fair is that? Besides, if English truly repented of his sin, I see no reason to hold it against him.
The problem here is that, assuming he says he repented, did he truly realize the error of his ways, or did he essentially say, "whoops, got caught! Better tell everyone I'm sorry in order to save my recording career!" I don't know, so I can't judge his sincerity. If I spent time with English, I might be able to get a feel for his level of sincerity. But since I'm not able to do that with every artist whose CD's I might consider buying, I'd rather judge the music based on the quality of the music itself. I'll leave their personal lives to themselves and God.
I should also mention that I'm a huge fan on John Lennon, who admittedly cheated on both of his wives and even beat his first wife, Cynthia. While I obviously don't approve of his disloyalty and violence towards his first wife, I absolutely love his music.
Would you allow your children to listen to his music?
I don't tell my kids who they can and cannot listen to. I prefer to try to give them values, show them why I like what I like, and let them sort it out for themselves. Besides, I think it's true that if you put something out of your kids' reach, they're likely to want it all the more.
78. Jesus said that a sparrow can't fall to the ground unless it's God's will (Matthew 10:29).
Not quite. More that it can't happen unless God allows it to happen. God allows things to happen which are outside of His will.
How do you explain catastrophes such as the destruction of the Twin Towers, or the 2004 earthquake in Bam, Iran, which caused the deaths of 31,000 people? Obviously, these things happened because God wanted them to happen.
No, they occured because God allowed them to happen. That God wanted them to happen would only be obvious to someone searching desperately for reasons to hate God. Open your mind just a wee bit.
How do you think God decides where (and when) these horrible events will occur?
He doesn't. The destruction of the twin towers was done by people with too much religion and not enough God (and, yes, there are many Christians who share this trait). The earthquake was a natural disaster.
What did these 31,000 Iranians, some of them infants less than a week old, do to deserve a violent death?
Nothing, as far as I know.
Why doesn't God send an earthquake to San Francisco to kill all the queers?
Because God doesn't hate "queers". If He did, He wouldn't have let Jesus die for them.
Or cause an earthquake at a prison, so that violent criminals will die?
Because God doesn't hate violent criminals. If He did, He wouldn't have let Jesus die for them.
Why doesn't God put these natural disasters to some good use, instead of making them appear to be random (exactly the way they would occur if he didn't exist)?
Because God doesn't cause them.
So the question you should be asking is - why doesn't God stop them? It's hard for us to fathom the answer to that question. It's hard for me personally to see the answer well enough to explain it. The reason for this is that we tend to be focused on what's best in the short run for a specific group of people (which God's stopping of 9/11 and natural disasters would have been) instead of what's best for the human race as a whole in the long run, which is what God is focused on. Such catastrophes tend to increase love and empathy among us humans in the long run. Just look at the response people the world over had to these events. Increasing love and empathy among human beings is a good thing. The human race will get past these events and be all the stronger for it.
79. If a person is "saved," can he later become "unsaved," that is, lose his salvation?
You can't "lose" it, but you can purposely throw it away. God Himself won't revoke it and you can't lose it accidentally.
The answer is no:
Romans 11:29 indicates that a gift from God (which salvation is, per Ephesians 2:8) is irrevocable. And Romans 8:1 says that there is no condemnation for Christians.
Yes, but gifts can be returned on the part of the recipient.
The answer is yes:
Hebrews 6:4-8 says that there can be a "falling away" that results in a loss of salvation — it's referred to as "being cursed" and "burned."
Yep, and that's what I'm talking about above.
So which do you believe? Is it possible, or impossible, to lose one's salvation?
Impossible to lose it, but possible to return it.
80. Matthew 5:48 says that I should be perfect, just as God is perfect; Ephesians 5:1 says that I should imitate God.
No, it doesn't. It says to be a follower of God, not to imitate Him.
How should I go about doing this? Perhaps by killing an infant who is the product of adultery (II Samuel 12:15-16)? Even if the child's father begs for mercy? Perhaps I should stand by and do nothing while six million innocent Jews die in gas chambers? Perhaps I should impregnate a virgin I've never been married to (Luke 1:31)? Perhaps I should contact all the people I claim to love and threaten them with eternal fiery torture? ? Maybe I should watch a tsunami start, out in the middle of the ocean, and sit on my ass and do nothing for two solid hours as it approaches land ... where 150,000 unsuspecting people are about to die ... and not warn anybody?
Your questions are based upon the assumption that God wants us to do what He does, which is a false assumption. As for why God did those things, I've already answered most of them, or will in the coming questions. If there's any others you want to know about, feel free to ask.
And speaking of impregnating a virgin I'm not married to ... that "affair" between Mary and God sounds like fornication to me, and according to the Deuteronomic laws, both Mary and God must be stoned to death (Deuteronomy 22:23-24).
No fornication was involved, sorry. Once again, you're reading things in which aren't there in order to invent reasons to hate God.
Can God make a rock so big that He Himself can be stoned to death by it?
Which reminds me ... the Bible says that Jesus never sinned (Hebrews 4:15). My question is: What if he had sinned ... gone into a whorehouse for ten minutes and gotten his cane varnished, for instance? Since he's God (John 10:30; Colossians 2:9), isn't it true that anything he does is, by definition, NOT a sin?
Like when Big God kills a bunch of innocent people? That's not a sin, is it?
Not when it's ultimately for the benefit of mankind. If God killed people for doing good deeds, or for no reason at all, I would definitely consider God to have done something evil.
So if Jesus (aka God) stabbed a guy to death for no reason, it's not a sin, since he's God, and God has the right to take a person's life for no reason (the way he does thousands of times every day), right?
"For no reason" would definitely be a sin. And what makes you think God takes thousands of lives every day? Exactly what are you counting?
Isn't it theologically impossible for Jesus to sin?
Of course not.
81. In John 14:12, Jesus says that his followers (Christians) will do greater works than he did — that is, greater things than (1) healing lepers, (2) walking on water, (3) feeding five thousand people with a few loaves and fishes, etc. Suppose I tell you that Jesus lied. Can you show me even one Christian, anywhere on earth, who is fulfilling this "doing greater works" prediction?
It's not talking about "more miraculous" things, but a greater amount of effort. Jesus spent three years and performed great works during that ministry. Other Christians spend many more years than that doing works, and feed many more than 5,000.
And if you say "Benny Hinn" I'll bitch-slap you.
If I said Benny Hinn, I'd deserve it.
82. Are you aware that there are many Christian documents that were written during the First Century C.E. (such as the Gospel of Peter, the Gospel of Thomas, The Shepherd, the Didace) that aren't part of the Bible?
Actually, they were written in the second century at the earliest. No reasonable scholar has any reason to, or does, date them to the first century. As for why they aren't part of the Bible, it's because they don't deserve to be, since they weren't written by people who knew Jesus. The authors of "Peter" and "Thomas" weren't Peter or Thomas.
Are you aware that the decisions as to which writings would be included in the Christian Bible were made over 1600 years ago?
Tell me everything you know about (1) those book-choosing/book-rejecting people in the Fourth Century C.E. and (2) the decision-making processes that they used, and explain to me why you trust them so much (can you name even one of them?).
I can't name one of them offhand, but I know that they rejected books whose authorship or authority couldn't be reliably confirmed, and/or that contradicted what was known by the earliest followers, those who knew Jesus.
It would be a little like if I was putting together a "best of Shakespeare" collection, I would definitely include any plays that were credited to Shakespeare in Shakespeare's day, and be strongly inclined to reject the supposedly "lost" plays that popped up years later, especially those that didn't match Shakespeare's style.
They also likely rejected some books whose authorship could be reliably determined, but offered little new to say about anything.
I think only the book of Hebrews has its exact authorship in doubt, but we do know it came from Paul's camp, at the very least, probably written by Luke or some other friend of Paul's.
Aren't you terribly worried that some of what's in your Bible doesn't belong there, or that there's something left out that is very important?
I find it very unlikely, since there doesn't appear to be anything in the Bible that doesn't belong there, or anything left out which appears very important. I've seen what some of the rejected books have to say, and would have been very puzzled to have found those books in the Bible.
Aren't you taking a huge leap of faith ... not with regard to your God, but with regard to the Fourth-Century folks who cobbled together the Bible?
No, all evidence says that they knew what they were doing and did a good job of it.
83. Leviticus 18:22 says that homosexuality is an abomination (a really, really bad sin). Question: If God decided tomorrow that heterosexuality is a sin, would you stop being a heterosexual? Could you stop being a heterosexual just because God commanded you to stop?
First of all, "being a homosexual" is not, according to the Bible, a sin. The only sin is acting on it, i.e. having sexual relations with a member of the same sex. A homosexual who lives an abstinent lifestyle is not committing any abominations.
So while I couldn't stop "being a heterosexual", if God commanded that having sexual relations with a member of the opposite sex was a sin (which it is for anyone who's unmarried), I would just live an abstinent lifestyle.
84. Romans 1:20 says that God's invisible qualities can be figured out by looking at what he created. What invisible qualities of your God have you divined from studying his creation (we're NOT talking about anything you read in the Bible)?And how did you arrive at your conclusions?
As a matter of fact, it was studying the universe, in a college astronomy course, that turned me from an atheist into a believer in God (though not a Christian - that came years later based on the historical reliability of the resurrection accounts). Studying the orderliness of the universe convinced me that whatever force created it was purposeful. Studying how the universe seems practically designed to sustain life for billions of years convinced me that whatever force created it cared about living beings.
What part of creation tells you that it makes sense that God would murder his only-begotten son because other people (not his son) disobeyed him?
God didn't murder Him, Jesus went willingly to the cross. It was a case of self-sacrifice, not murder, on God's part. But nothing in the natural world speaks directly to the crucifixion/resurrection accounts. That's the historical record which speaks to that.
85. Have you ever studied church history — the Inquisition, the witch burnings, the Crusades, the selling of indulgences, the Popes who fathered illegitimate children?
How do you feel about these things?
Ummm...they're really bad.
Do they make you ashamed to belong to such an ugly tradition?
Since I don't persecute non-believers, burn witches, sell indulgences, or father illegitimate children, I don't belong to that tradition.
Or do you mean am I ashamed to be a Christian because a very small minority of Christians have done really bad things a long, long time ago? Well, should doctors be ashamed to belong to their profession, since a small minority of doctors, people like H.H. Holmes, Linda Hazzard, and Harold Shipman, not to mention Josef Mengele, were mass murderers? Should Germans be ashamed to be Germans because of the Nazis? Should Arabs be ashamed to be Arabs because of the 9-11 terrorists? Should atheists be ashamed to be atheists because of Mao Tse Tung, Stalin, and Pol Pot (who between them murdered more people in the 20th century than Christians have throughout all of history)? Or is it only among Christians that you feel all should be ashamed of the actions of a small minority?
Why isn't church history ever taught in church? (The Protestants, of course, would have to admit that for many centuries, the Catholic church was the only boat afloat.)
Church history is frequently taught in church, just as medical history is frequently taught in medical school. That doesn't mean they dwell on the negatives, like you apparently want them to (in the case of Christianity, at least - I imagine you're not so baised against the medical profession).
86. Romans 2:13 says that those who obey the law will be declared righteous. Galatians 2:21 says that if righteousness could be gained through the law, then Christ died for nothing. Which do you believe? Did Christ die for nothing?
Keep reading Romans. Paul is setting up an argument to the effect that no one is fully able to obey the law, which is what makes Jesus' sacrifice necessary. It's a little like saying "If people were able to lift things weighing many tons without help, we wouldn't need cranes". That's not an argument against the necessity of cranes.
87. Are you aware that the New Testament gives us no reason to think that the believers in the early church ever referred to themselves as Christians? The word "Christian" is used only three times in the New Testament (Acts 11:26, Acts 26:28, I Peter 4:16), and the context strongly indicates that "Christian" was an insult.
Only in Acts 26:28 does it appear to be an insult, only because the person using it doesn't appear to like Christians much.
Why do you think people today who believe in Jesus call themselves Christians?
Because we follow Christ, perhaps?
88. In Proverbs 26:4, God orders you not to answer a fool according to his folly. In the very next verse, Proverbs 26:5, God orders you to do the exact opposite — that is, he orders you to answer a fool according to his folly. Let's say you have decided to live your life according to God's Holy Word, and you are confronted with a fool (and you've decided to answer him). What do you do?
First of all, do you really believe that the author wrote the first verse, immediately forgot what he wrote, and accidently wrote just the opposite? Do you also believe this about Charles Dickens when he wrote (in the opening of "A Tale of Two Cities") "It was the best of times. It was the worst of times."? Or isn't it more likely that this was being done on purpose, that he was showing a contrast in order to make the reader think deeply about what he was saying? You had to have considered this possibility. How much effort did it take to make you reject it?
These aren't orders, but two halves of a catch-22 that is being pointing out, kind of like "Laugh, and the world laughs with you. Cry, and you cry alone". That's not a command to laugh and cry. The author of proverbs is saying that no matter what you do, you aren't going to stop the fool from being a fool. It's a no-win situation.
Besides that, it's not God speaking, but the book's author, probably Solomon.
89. The Bible that you carry and study and memorize consists of 66 "books." Why aren't more Bible "books" being written today?
Who's in charge of adding books to the Bible nowadays?
If I told you that a certain writing from, say, 1997, should be considered Scripture, on a par with Colossians and II Thessalonians, on what basis would you dispute me? How do you know I'm wrong?
Since you aren't a Christian, I'd say that you don't have the authority to even begin to decide what books are on par with Colossians and II Thessalonians. If a Christian made this argument instead of a wiccan, I'd ask why he considers them on par, and then listen to the answer before I went any further in debating it. Then I'd ask him who's in charge of adding books to the Bible nowadays.
Come to think of it, how do you know that it was appropriate to include II John in the Bible? How do you know it was right to exclude the Gospel of Peter?
Including II John is appropriate since John was one of the Apostles and all evidence says it was written by him. Excluding the Gospel of Peter is appropriate since there is no strong reason to suppose that it came from Peter, directly or indirectly, or that it was written prior to the second century.
90. Genesis 2:17 tells us that God ordered humans not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Why would God not trust humans with such knowledge, but rather give it to ... a piece of fruit? The Bible records that Eve ate the fruit because she wanted to gain wisdom (Genesis 3:6); God commands us to obtain wisdom (Proverbs 4:5). Which do you believe ... that God wants us to gain wisdom, or doesn't want us to gain wisdom?
That God wants us to gain wisdom, but not by eating a piece of fruit. Climbing into a vat of boiling water will teach me what it's like to be boiled alive, and learning things is good, but that doesn't mean that my climbing into a vat of boiling water is a good thing to do.