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Monday, September 1, 2008

Religions Don't Make Sense, Part I

Last night my atheist group put on a free cookout for the campus and it went off quite well. I spent the evening working the room, speaking to almost everyone. I had many interesting conversations with those who showed up. Contrary to how Ray and most Christian leaders portray atheists, we are not this intolerant group of people with their minds made up that there are no gods and that our big gripe is others' beliefs in the existence of some particular god. One of my favorite conversations of the evening was with a deist who wants to join the group.

I have no problem at all with some sort of deistic belief as it is rational in all other regards. Why, though, show up at an atheist group if one believes in the existence of a supreme being? When I send out an email to our mailing list (now swelling at the number of 200), I address it to those "skeptical of religions and religious superstition." This was very much the individual in question. We had a nice conversation on the history of Christianity.

I posted a couple days ago about the history of the name Jesus. Most of the Christians I have met do not know that history. It is not surprising, though, as there's much in the history of their religion that they do not know and is part of the reason this particular religion doesn't make sense to me. Here is just a general, unorganized list of why religions don't make sense to me. They are not religion specific, or rather they are not denomination specific.

I will post this in a series over several posts. Remember, these will be unorganized and general in particular.

One of my favorite posts from Pvblivs's blog is one where he asks an ethical question. A summary of it is that he is a highly advanced alien who has high expectations of his arrival. He's fully able to communicate his existence and expectations to Earth directly, but instead he has simply provided a sketch of his craft in crayon and some residents of insane asylums are providing instructions to everyone on how to meet his expectations. I agree with Pvblivs that I see this as highly analogous to the Christian Bible...

Why, if the Christian God exists, doesn't he reveal himself to us? If he wants us to believe in him, why not just reveal himself? Why play games? I've heard several answers for it and none of them make sense to me. If you accept the Bible (which you have to if you're Christian), God was revealing himself all throughout the Old Testament. He didn't make a stranger of himself -- although, his presence must have not been all that convincing if every time he turned his back his favorite tribe were off worshiping some other god. Or better yet, he revealed himself through Jesus. Jesus did not make a secret his magic powers. Obviously, he had no problem revealing himself then. He knew godly things, he performed godly magic tricks, he flew around in the air... why not do that now? He obviously didn't have a problem before.

But wait. He has done it again since then. He did it again to Muhammad, yet another example of him playing favorites. For some reason, though, Muhammad's tale is unconvincing to Christians, even though they have even more reason to believe in the Qur'an than the Bible. And let's not forget, he did it again since then with Joseph Smith. Here's a man who lived less than 200 years ago and we have solid proof that he existed. Why do Christians make such ado about the sketchy evidence for the existence of Jesus when there is such solid evidence for the existence of Joseph Smith?

But, let's get back to the question of why he won't reveal himself. Here's a popular response: it would violate our free will. Again, this question makes no sense as he already made a habit of violating our free wills before when he spent centuries supposedly revealing himself. I suspect that this canard is just supposed to be a steak thrown in front of the atheists to get us distracted and off guard. I suspect this doesn't make sense to those who propose it as they pray nonstop and claim that God answers their prayers and interferes in their little lives, thus violating free will. I'll revisit free will later.

Religion makes no sense to me... to be continued.

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