121. Do you believe that atheists and Wiccans and lesbians have exactly the same legal rights that you do? If your answer is "yes," have you taught this to your children?
Yes and yes.
122. After Noah's ark landed, and the flood waters receded, what did the carnivores eat while the prey animals were repopulating?
I don't take the Noah's Ark story as literal, but as parable. Ask someone who believes it is literal.
But for the record, I do believe that there was almost certainly a flooding situation at some point in mankind's past that wiped out the majority of the human race, since practically every civilization on Earth has a story about this happening.
123. After Noah's ark landed, and the flood waters receded, what did the pandas eat? There damn sure isn't any bamboo in the Middle East (and if there had been, it would have been soaking in salt water for the previous 40 days, and would have been inedible).
124. After Noah's ark landed, and the flood waters receded, the two polar bears traveled all the way from Mt. Ararat (in the Middle East) to the Arctic Circle, leaving no population or offspring behind. If they had traveled at a constant speed of 2 mph, never stopping to sleep, eating while they were on the move, and didn't slow down even for mountains or oceans (this being, of course, impossible), the trip would have taken them three months.
(a) How did they do this? (b) How did they survive the hot temperature? (c) What did they eat?
125. After Noah's ark landed, and the flood waters receded, the two duckbill platypuses traveled all the way from the Middle East to Australia, swimming through thousands of miles of salt water (and leaving behind no offspring). How did they survive this trip? And what did they eat? Everything on earth was dead, except the small group of animals located right there where the ark landed. When they lit out, headed away from Mt. Ararat, there was NOTHING out there ... nothing for them to eat.
And by the way ... when the flood waters "receded," where did they go? This was, supposedly, a worldwide flood. If the waters had had somewhere to go, they wouldn't have waited 40 days to go there.
I'll again say see 122, but also point out that if the water covered the whole world, it would eventually settle into the lowest areas, just as it does after any rainstorm
126. [Re: the Noah's ark flood] Why did only Noah and his family survive? Wouldn't there have been somebody else somewhere on earth who had a seaworthy boat that could stay afloat as long as the ark did? Wouldn't there have been lots of (human-occupied) boats floating around in the oceans and rivers at the time the rain started falling that would have simply "risen with the tide?"
If (a) Noah's flood really happened and (b) evolution is a false theory, how many Negroes and Japanese married into Noah's family, back before 2304 BC?
127. Genesis 3:8-9 indicates that Adam and Eve successfully hid themselves from God. If he's all-knowing, how is this possible? And is there somewhere that I could hide from the son of a bitch so that he won't send me to his hell when I die?
Also a story I don't take literal, but, for the record, it never says that they successfully hid themselves from God. God did ask where they were, but sometimes people ask questions knowing the answers, trying to elicit a confession. That's clearly what God was doing here.
128. I'll bet you have at least one relative that you know isn't "saved." How can you enjoy an eternity in heaven knowing that that person is screaming in pain in the unquenchable fires of hell, forever and ever and ever, until the end of time ... and beyond? Wouldn't this spoil your eternal bliss? And if it wouldn't, aren't you a pretty hard-hearted person? Just as hard-hearted, I might add, as your God?
Again, I don't believe that hell is a place of eternal torture.
129. Do you believe that a Pagan is just as happy as you are?
Which one? I'm sure some are happier and some are not.
Do you believe that a Pagan could be happier in life than you are as a Christian?
I could say something about ignorance being bliss, but instead I'll just say that I'm sure some pagans are happier than I am and others are not as happy as I am. My own personal happiness isn't my main goal in life.
130. The story of Noah and the flood recounts how God killed every person and every animal on earth, except for just a few. If you illustrated this story for children, would your picture show all the millions and millions of rotting, bloated corpses floating on the surface of the water, and the swarms of black flies?
No, I'd just show the boat sailing on top of the waters.
Are you surprised that PETA doesn't rise up and denounce God for cruelty to animals?
They'd be wrong to do so, since God has dominion over the animals.
131. Imagine that you're walking out of church after the Sunday morning service with your son, who is six years old. As you're getting into the car, he says, "Piss! Ass! Foreskin! Whore! Dung! Breasts! Bastard! Concubine! Eunuch! Fornication!" Would you be offended?
No, I'd be amused at his attempts to offend me.
Would you punish him for using such language?
No, since I'm sure I say worse stuff myself on occasion.
Are you aware that each one of those words is in the King James Version of the Holy Bible ... the very book your son has tucked under his little arm?
Wow! A six-year-old reading the KJV? Must be one amazingly smart kid!
Do you realize that he's just "quoting the Bible?"
Stating various words from a book without any context is hardly "quoting".
132. [April 2005] Pope John Paul II just died. For the last few months of his life, he was too sick to do his job, yet he refused to retire and hand over the reins of power to a successor. Isn't this evidence of fleshly pride? Isn't this evidence that he was in love with power?
No, since it's tradition for Popes to remain in power until they die. Had he stepped down early, I'm sure the Catholics would have been, for the most part, troubled by this.
133. Do you believe that quantum mechanics equations contain hidden variables that cause determinism to prevail? Why or why not?
I'd tell you, but it would cause your brain to explode.
Just kidding, I don't know quantum mechanics well enough to answer.
134. Do you believe that church attendance is important?
It's hardly necessary for salvation, but I do believe it's important.
Why? Are you aware that there is only one Bible verse that even vaguely orders Christians to attend church services (it's Hebrews 10:25)
Yeah, because everyone at the time was already doing it. It's a little like commanding someone to go to the bathroom now and then.
but there are four separate commandments in the New Testament that order you to kiss every person that you meet (I Corinthians 16:20, II Corinthians 13:12, I Thessalonians 5:26, I Peter 5:14)? Which are you doing more of these days — going to church, or kissing people?
Honestly, kissing people. I'm sure I kiss my wife at least once a day, which is more often than I attend church. But, no, I don't kiss every person that I meet. That was a mode of greeting back then which is no longer popular in our culture, so I think God understands if we substitute a friendly smile instead.
And in case you're wondering ... no, there's nothing in the Ten Commandments that requires church attendance. You "keep the Sabbath day holy" by not working, period. You can look it up (Exodus 20:8).
And by the way ... the Sabbath is Saturday, not Sunday. Do you work on Saturday?
Are you arrogant enough to think that you have the right to change God's Sabbath from Saturday to a different day of the week?
Me personally? No. The church hasn't really changed the sabbath, as in requiring others to follow suit, but worships on Sunday since it was the day Jesus was resurrected.
135. In Luke 22:36, Jesus specifically orders Christians to buy swords — even if they have to sell their outer garments to get the money. Do you own a sword? If you don't, when do you plan to buy one and end your rebellion against the Lord's clear and unequivocal commandment?
This was clearly and unequivocally a command to a specific group of disciples at a specific time in a specific situation, not a general command to all followers for all time. Read it again.
136. In Matthew 19:12, Jesus said that some people have castrated themselves for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. If your son told you that he wanted to follow Our Lord's suggestion, what would you say?
I'd say, "What suggestion? Where are you getting a suggestion in that statement?"
137. In John 21:15-17, we read about an exchange between Jesus and Simon Peter. Jesus asks Simon three times, "Do you love me?" As you probably know, when you read this passage in Greek, Jesus uses different words for "love." Pastors adore this passage because it's a ready-made sermon. There are a couple of problems, though: (1) Jesus didn't speak Greek when he talked to Simon, because Simon wouldn't have known what the hell he was saying, and (2) if you try to do this in Aramaic, which is the language that Jesus would have used, it just doesn't work, since Aramaic doesn't have as many words that are translated "love." How do you explain this? Could this be a fake story?
I first want to point out that Jesus only used two words for "love", not three. You didn't specifically say that He used three different words, but your phrasing kind of implies it.
Most likely, Jesus used more than one word each time, which was then translated into Greek, which had a single word for each type of love, so they used the single word. Jesus probably said something like "Do you love me as a friend?" and "Do you love me spiritually?"
138. Proverbs 22:15 clearly says that it is acceptable for me to hit my child with a stick. If you observed me in my back yard "being Biblical" by hitting my seven-year-old son with a stick, what (if anything) would you do?
Didn't you already bring this one up? The "rod of correction" is a figure of speech, not speaking of a literal rod.
139. You believe that you're going to heaven after you die. Do you like the idea that you've been created for the sole purpose of worshipping your creator?
No, since I wasn't, and the Bible never says I was.
That after you die, you're supposed to do this forever?
Only if choose to, dude.
That the purpose of your existence is to be part of a cosmic cheering squad for a deity so vain and insecure that he needs constant, eternal reassurance of his supremacy?
No, since you're just making that up. We worship God because we're thankful for all He's done for us, not because God requires us to. God never requires worship from us.
When someone gives you a nice gift, do you thank them because they're vain and insecure and need reassurance, or because you're thankful for the gift?
140. You would tell me that I can't be "saved" unless I believe certain things, i.e., that Jesus is the son of God, and died for my sins, and rose on the third day (Hebrews 11:6, Romans 10:9). I do NOT believe these things. How do I force myself to believe something that I don't believe? Of course, I can lie and SAY that I believe, but God will know I'm lying, so that's no good.
You can't force yourself to believe something you don't believe. But I would ask that before you reject God, you stop trying to do everything in your power to convince yourself that He's evil and instead try to consider the stories in context, to realize that (at least per what the Bible says) God created all life, so that even those whose lives God has ended only got to live in the first place because of Him. I really believe that you're going out of your way to reject Christianity, and not giving it any kind of fair shot. I really can't fault you, since I used to do the same thing, though probably not to the extent that you do. If you're going to continue to desperately look for ways to hate God, then you can hardly blame God for your rejection of Him. You can't fool Him. He knows what you're up to, and whether you're being honest about the reasons why you're rejecting Him or not.
Suppose I told you, with all sincerity (and swore on a stack of Bibles), that Elvis Presley is still alive; his death in 1977 was faked. He was kidnapped by space aliens, and he now lives on the planet Venus. Any day now, he will return to earth to reign over us for 1,000 years. All this is prophesied in an ancient book I have (which I then proceed to show you). And then I tell you, seriously, that unless you believe this, 100%, with all your heart, you will go to hell when you die. You must believe this to be saved!
First of all, if you could prove that the book was actually ancient (even pre-20th century) and clearly prophecied the life of a jumpsuit-clad peanut-butter-and-banana-sandwich-munching rock and roll star from the 20th century, I'd be impressed enough to consider it further. If you were unable to give convincing evidence that it was ancient, or at least written well before the 20th century, I'd stop there since there logically should be some kind of evidence for that. I would have a very hard time seeing the cause-and-effect of it. Elvis clearly was an imperfect, non-omniscient being who would be unable to survive on the planet Venus. Perhaps the Venusians did something to him, but since any being that lives in this universe is a created being, and thus does not have dominion over life, they would have no right to pass judgment on me. These are points I'd bring up and I would consider your answers before considering the issue any further.
Question: How does a person force himself to believe something that is utter bs?
You can't. The problem is that you're never going to know if the Bible is utter B.S. until you give it a fair shot, until you open your mind a bit and drop the attitude of automatically hating everything in it and removing things from context to accomplish this, of assuming that God, despite being our creator, has no right to pass judgment on us. I used to believe it was utter B.S., myself. But then one day I decided that I wanted to know if Jesus really was resurrected. I didn't care if it was true or not. If it wasn't, no loss. But I recognized the fact that if I didn't drop my "the Bible is bull and that's all there is to it" attitude, I was never going to find out if I was right or not. Try to approach it with an open mind instead.
141. Did you know that your Bible specifically commands you — twice — not to be screw your mother (Leviticus 18:7, Deuteronomy 27:20)?
Yes, since that was a common occurance among other ancient tribes.
Has your minister preached any sermons on this topic lately?
Hardly necessary these days.
And are you aware that Silver RavenWolf, Raymond Buckland, Doreen Valiente, Margot Adler, and Stewart Farrar, in all their many Wiccan books, have never thought it necessary to instruct Wiccans not to screw their own mothers?
All of which were written in relatively modern times, I assume.
Why do you think your God needs to tell you twice not to do so?
Because it was a common occurance among other tribes of the day.
And by the way ... are you still sure you want your child reading this filthy book?
142. Do you read the Bible the same way you read any other book?
If you owned a shop manual with this many inconsistencies and contradictions, would you keep using it?
I haven't seen any, as long as we consider the language it was originally written in and the context of the passages.
Are you more willing to forgive the errors and inaccuracies in the Bible than you would if it weren't a "holy book?"
I haven't seen any, so the question makes no sense.
Are you in fact making allowances for the imperfections of your God?
I haven't seen any imperfections in God. And besides that, God didn't write the Bible, so even if there were errors and contradictions, it wouldn't reflect on God, just on the imperfect authors who wrote the book.
Are you making special accommodations and excuses for this book, the same way you would for a mentally retarded child?
The only special accommodation I make is that I go back and consider the original language of the texts, which I might not feel the need to do except that so many critics cry "contradiction!" without bothering to look further. And no, you don't need to actually know the language in order to do this. There are many scholars who know the languages well and have done this, and their answers have stood up nicely to skeptics who have also considered the original language.
Isn't your Bible a kind of a weird, defective, antiquated thing that you tolerate only because you feel like you have to, because you're afraid of what might happen if you questioned it in a fair, reasonable manner?
No, it was questioning it in a fair, reasonable manner (finally) that got me to believe in it.
And isn't fear an integral part of your religion - not fear of evil spirits or of Satan, but fear of God himself (Deuteronomy 6:13, Joshua 24:14, Psalm 2:11, Ecclesiastes 12:13, Isaiah 33:6, II Corinthians 5:11)?
That's really more about respect than fear.
Is the Bible something that is occasionally an embarassment to you?
In trying to come up with answers to the questions on this page, do you find yourself having to stifle your normal common sense?
No, but most of those mining for contradictions, or reasons to hate God, certainly stifle theirs.
Do you find yourself saying things like
(a) "God can do whatever he wants to, because he's God" or
God can do whatever He wants, yes. But if He did evil things, then I wouldn't consider Him good.
(b) "God is holy, and can't allow any sin in his presence" or
Which is true, so this is valid. Though I don't think I've used it on this list.
(c) "Well, things are different today than they were in Biblical times" or
Are you saying they aren't?
(d) "There are a lot of things in the Bible we just don't understand" or
There certainly are things in the Bible I don't understand (at least yet), but I have never had to use this in responding to a claim of contradiction. I've even answered "I'm not sure" to a few of your questions, but not to any that are of vital importance or to any claims of contradiction and error.
(e) "We just have to trust in God; we have to have faith" or
I do trust in God, just as I trust my wife not to have affairs. It's not based on any kind of blind faith, but faith based in the many things I know about them. And again, I don't use this as a response to critics' questions. I never tell the critics to trust in God, just to make some kind of attempt to understand God within the context of the Bible.
(f) "We can't always understand God; his ways are not our ways" (this is also true of Charles Manson) or
We can't, but, again, this never is used as a response to critics.
(g) "That Bible verse must have been taken out of context ... I'll look it up some time" or
No, I'll look it up before I answer you and see if, perhaps, it was taken out of context (which it always is, oddly).
(h) "Well, that's just one of those difficult Bible passages" or
Yep, and then I'll explain the difficulties and try to help you understand what it's really saying.
(i) "That was back in the Old Testament; it doesn't apply to us" or
Yes, since much in the OT applied to the people of the OT, obviously.
(j) "I can't explain it, and I don't really understand it, but I still believe in the Bible, no matter what..."
I would never use that one.
when deep down inside, in the common-sense part of your mind, you suspect that the Bible is really a not-too-admirable invention of man — not really "the word of God" at all?
That's what I used to believe until I decided to give it a fair shot.
Do you find that the more you study the Bible, the more you have to engage in "double-think?"
No. Do you?
If this many legitimate questions existed about an airplane that you were about to board, would you go ahead and make the trip?
I wouldn't consider someone shouting "this plane doesn't have wings!" when I can clearly see it does, to be a legitimate concern, personally.
What legitimate questions exist about the Bible? Again, all I'm asking you to do is consider the context, as you would with any other book. I just read a book, a true story even, in which the central character ends up being hung by the neck until dead. Man, hanging is such an awful way to go! Was it right for this person to be hung like that? Was he an innocent man framed unjustly for a crime he didn't commit? Was he someone who spoke out against an unjust society, and that society did him in? Was he a black man strung up by a crowd of racists for some minor or imagined offense? Or was he a serial killer convicted of multiple murders? Or a tyrant who oppressed and killed thousands of his subjects and finally got his come-uppance? How can you answer that and pass judgment on what happened to this man unless you consider the context of the event?
Or would you wait for the next flight?
If I had legitimate questions, I would weigh them against my necessity to get to where I'm going, how many other legitimate ways there are to get to my destination, how likely they are to be more safe, and whether I have questions about this flight would apply to my next flight as well.
And, personally, I find the evidence that Jesus was actually resurrected to be stronger than for just about any other event of ancient times. And I find the idea of Jesus' deity-hood far stronger than for any other religious figure. Do I know for absolute 100% certain that Jesus was resurrected? No, I do not. It actually could be a hoax that I'm falling for. But the evidence is strongly against it - so strongly that I'm willing to take the rest on faith.
If you had the courage to be absolutely, 100% honest, would you tell people that you really believe that the Bible is perfect and infallible?
Yes, though I will add that while I believe it is infallible, I don't know for sure. There could be errors that I don't know about. If so, that just proves, as I already believe, that the authors were fallible men.
If we hooked you up to a polygraph when you made that statement ("Yes, I believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God, and it's 100% infallible"), how much would the needles wiggle?
As long as I said "believe" and not "know", then not at all. And by "word of God" I am not saying that God personally wrote it, nor is any sane person saying this.
What would it take to convince you that the Bible and its God ARE fatally flawed (assuming you're not yet convinced)?
Well, the Bible, in my opinion, stands or falls on whether or not Jesus was resurrected. If Jesus was truly resurrected, then there's little reason not to believe in the Bible on general principles. No, it does not prove that it contains no errors or contradictions, but any errors or contradictions would be small potatoes next to the fact that Jesus' resurrection pretty much proves that the authors knew, at least in general, what they were talking about and that Jesus was who He claimed to be.
And if Jesus was not resurrected, if the central event of the New Testament was an error or lie on the part of the authors, then how the heck can we trust the rest of the writings not to be errors or lies? How could we trust it even generally? So for the question of the Bible being "fatally flawed", give me strong evidence that Jesus was not resurrected. Some ways you can do this are to give me evidence suggesting that the authors of the NT didn't really believe that what they were writing was true, perhaps that they secretly admitted their lies under pressure from the Roman authorities, or that they had secret writings which can be reliably shown to be theirs, in which they admitted their hoax. Or, show me that the basic story of Jesus existed prior to Jesus' time (an approach several critics have tried to take, but have failed miserably). Or show me that places, people, or events of the NT stories didn't actually exist in the 1st century. Or show me that what certain people did in the NT stories are things that they couldn't possibly have done, for whatever reason.
As for convincing me that God is fatally flawed, take anything he ever did that was detrimental for a certain group of people at a certain time (which, yes, he has done), and show me that it didn't somehow benefit mankind, or at least a larger group of people, as a whole in the long run. Show me that he punished someone for doing a good thing. Show me that he broke an unconditional promise, or a conditional promise where the condition was met. Show me that he forces people to worship Him against their will. And, obviously, this requires considering the context of God's actions, acknowledging (at least per the story) that God has dominion over mankind since He created mankind.
And if nothing could ever convince you, isn't your "faith" pretty meaningless? Isn't it, in fact, mere stubbornness ... which is of the flesh?
There are many things which could convince me (see above - and I'm sure there are many other things), but I haven't seen any of them yet. I've had skeptics try to convince me that the Jesus story was based on earlier "godmen" stories, that Nazareth didn't exist in the first century, that there is proof that the authors just made it all up - and each time I've asked them for the evidence, they've been unable to provide it. So just provide the evidence that other people claim exists but can't seem to find.
Why is it that you employ your critical faculties (i.e., your good common sense) in every aspect of your life other than this one?
I do employ critical faculties in considering the Bible. Do you?
You wouldn't invest your kids' college savings in a scheme run by a cheesy scam artist. You don't buy the crap they advertise in the infomercials ("Wait! If you call in the next ten minutes ..."). But ... let somebody use the magic word "God" or show you some commandment or assertion in an old leather-bound book (an incomprehensible self-contradictory 17th-Century English translation of a ragtag collection of spurious copies of Greek and Hebrew manuscripts that were collected over a period of 1800 years, and selected from an even larger collection of manuscripts by people that you know nothing about) and, regardless of how patently absurd or preposterous the assertion is, you drop your pants and bend over, no questions asked. Does it ever occur to you that maybe, just maybe, you're allowing yourself to be controlled by ... the wrong thing?
If I believed half of what you wrote in that last bit, then I'd be controlled by the wrong thing. That's merely opinion, unsupported by the facts.