The First Questions And Concerns That Christianity Must Answer

To me, the challenges against the claims to the historicity, ethical coherence and relevance of Christianity begin with the points and questions listed below and build from there. If Christians are not able to establish reasonable (not exhaustive or perfect) answers to these issues, I don’t know how they can sincerely assert that their faith is true. It goes back to the adage of “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence”.

1. At least 300 million years of sentient animal suffering for creatures as large as rodents and dogs existed before humans arrived and inherited this situation. Horrendous pain was and is an intrinsic feature of the cosmos and biological life. Predation, disease, starvation, terror, depression, loneliness, earthquakes, volcanoes, tsunamis, famine, hurricanes, meteors, tornadoes, etc. Further, predators were uniquely designed for killing other animals, just as certain kinds of diseases were designed to infect and diminish the health of living things.

2. There is no evidence that a fall of humankind occurred.

3. There is no realistic model proposed for how humans could function in a world without cell death (as this is how the Garden of Eden is often described, to various degrees). What we know as “human” includes things like a metabolism, something close to 90% of cells within our bodies being microbial (without human DNA) after birth onward, producing waste products that decompose, etc.

4. There is no need for salvation unless one accepts the pure assertions of the Bible that humans are fallen from a perfectly healthy moral state at some time in the past that we have no evidence for or realistic description of.

5. How is it possible, believable, intelligent, fair or wisely designed that one significant rebellion by the first humans would ruin the prospects for an inherently high quality of life for all future humans and seriously endanger them toward eternal torment unless they made the right kind of decision in response to a very confusing world full of suffering?

6. How is it possible, believable or fair that a good, competent, intelligent and wise God would make a cosmos and moral system that is so frail that it will collapse into radical disarray after just one significantly bad choice by two human beings?

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2 comments

  1. I appreciate your points and have heard alternate versions of a few. I’d point out, however, that to argue against ”Christianity” is to argue against a wide variety of beliefs that have the sole common grounds that they use an interpretation of the Bible and think Jesus was exceptional. (I avoid ”extraordinary” or “divine” as there are sects that avoid even those claims.) As a Catholic my faith rejects literal interpretation of the whole Bible with the thought that some parts … creation, Eden … are poetic or metaphorical. The church has also taken the approach that there’s only one truth and if a biblical interpretation is contradicted by science then the interpretation must be wrong … not that they don’t do their best to question science longer than is necessary. In short, Christianity isn’t a megalithic entity. It’s more like a gravel mound with some 13,000 Protestant sects just in the U.S. and several divisions among those calling themselves Catholic.

    • Thank you for that feedback, curmudgeonlyreader.

      It’s true that Roman Catholicism has many differences of interpretation, structure and emphasis in comparison to Protestantism.

      My critiques of Christianity generally, and to various degrees, apply to all forms of Christianity, East or West, liberal or conservative.

      Even with a more liberal or metaphorical interpretation of Christianity, the blame for the existence of heavy suffering and pain in the universe is almost always put upon humans. To me, this is absurd and inhumane. I don’t think that one can rationally and sincerely look deeply at the natural world and then conclude that God is perfectly loving or just. The only way to reach such high views of God is to depend on some added philosophy, theology or revelation.

      All branches of Christianity agree on the Nicene Creed and Apostles Creed. Though liberal Christians waiver on various aspects of these creeds, their faith still begins here. That is more than enough content to justify my critiques. All of my complaints and concerns about the ethical validity, historicity and relevance of this faith are rooted in an evaluation and experience with its core and universal elements.

      For example, consider my article titled, “Christ’s Numerous Failings”:

      https://disagreementsihavewithchristianity.wordpress.com/2012/03/24/christs-numerous-moral-failings

      I’d love to hear what you think of this relatively short post as a whole, but here is an excerpt to begin with:

      ————————————————

      God in Jesus Christ (“on his own” during his human incarnation, at least apparently, or by means of his interdependent harmony with the Father and Holy Spirit), throughout the Old and New Testaments to varying degrees, commanded or supported these terrible things directly or indirectly (mostly directly): eternal hell based on a short earthly life, genocide, misogyny, slavery, polygamy, seasonal and colonial warfare, theocracy, capital punishments for moderate sins (such as a female lying about her virginity — which modern science has shown to be impossible to prove medically, or cursing one’s parents, or working on the Sabbath, or not keeping a known dangerous bull locked up if the bull later kills a person — but if a slave is killed the owner only has to pay a fine, or being the victim of rape if one is an engaged woman and the rape occurs in a city), animal sacrifice, excessive judgment on the vast majority of humans who did not have biblical revelation until the last few hundred years, and many other things.

      These are things that Jesus never challenged because, as the New Testament and history of orthodox theology repeatedly states, he was the God of the Old Testament. Even if a believer takes a more liberal viewpoint and downplays or denies the divinity of Jesus, the same basic argument remains in tact. This teacher from ancient Galilee supports in full the God and writings of the Old Testament. He innovates on the earlier scriptures, but doesn’t contradict them. In fact, he says that he has come to fulfill the law, not abolish it.

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