Every sermon, devotion, and Bible story people hear from the church has a positive message or a good lesson to be learned when ending in tragedy. It is taught that the Bible is the word of God and He spoke through men to write it and it does not contradict itself, because God is not contradicting. However there are many verses that are contradicting and are not moral. If God can create the universe he would be able to create a book that is clear enough so it could not be interpreted more than one way. Apologist when trying to make sense of verses that are contradicting of Gods nature will make claims that cannot be proven and twist words in order to explain scriptures. Occam’s razor, which is a principle that says the “simplest explanation is usually the correct one”, is a good way to discover the truth when searching for it. It has neither a Christian nor secular bias and is a great way to look at things when bias wants to creep in.
So if the Bible is not true, how did it get here and why? And why do people still believe it today? We would need to think back to over 7,000 years ago. People at this time would have had so many questions, such as what is that bright thing in the sky and why is it always moving? How and why is water falling from the sky? What is that loud and terrifying streak of light in the sky that seems to be trying to kill us? Why do I sometimes get sick? Why does the moon keep changing shape? Why did this person suddenly die when just weeks ago they were doing fine? Why are there strong winds that are destroying things? And the question we still ask ourselves today, how did we get here? This would have been a terrifying time for people to live in, and people would have tried to answer these questions. The answer they came up with to these things was that there were supernatural powers, which were gods who control these events.
When bad things happened to people they would explain it by saying god was upset with them, when good things happened it was god who was pleased with them. They would worship these gods in order to please them in hopes that the gods would keep them safe. Of course it is non-sense to us today, but to them at the time it made a lot of sense. It was their best way of explaining things they didn’t understand.
Later on came a man named Moses who was leading the Israelites through the wilderness for many years. People would have been complaining and disagreeing constantly. Moses would have been telling everyone to trust him, and people would have said, “Why should we continue trusting you”? And this could possibly be when the Judea Christian religions were born, he would have said something such as, “Because God is talking to me, and telling me where to go and what to do”. He could have even said something to the effect that God is saying that if you don’t all listen to me we are all going to die. This threat would have made people not question Moses. His strategy worked! He even said, God is also telling me rules for us to live by and I’m going to go up into the mountain and talk to him alone. This would have been because he knew he wasn’t really talking to God and people would have seen that. Why would God choose favorites to talk too anyway? If we were all his children wouldn’t he treat us all the same? Picking favorites doesn’t seem to be moral.
The wilderness might not have been the place this all started but it is very likely. Claiming you can talk to a supernatural being would have been a great way control a large group of people, and the fear it would put into people if they didn’t follow would have been extremely terrifying. Once people believed that Moses was able to speak to God, they would have started asking more questions, such as, “ask God how we got here?” “How did the earth get here?” “Why do bad things happen?” Because of these types of questions we have Genesis, which is the best explanation Moses could come up with. And the story continued for thousands of years, everything that happened from there on was explained as God did it. When big floods and series of bad events happened it was God’s wrath. When something good or extraordinary happened that people couldn’t explain, it was God grace. For thousands of years this was taught, and because it wasn’t based on truth, many different branches based on the same God began to develop. These branches include Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. For thousands of years this was the best way humans could explain a lot of the questions people had. Since nothing could prove it wrong and the church didn’t want to prove it wrong since it was a tool used to keep order, everyone believed it.
If big events were an act of God, why don’t we have them today? Televangelists and other Christian leaders will say that earthquakes and floods today are acts of God. But we know that a city such as New Orleans didn’t get destroyed because of sin, but because it is below sea level. If it was God doing this because of sin, why wouldn’t he destroy other cities at the same time such as Las Vegas, which the Bible would say is a more “evil” place than New Orleans. We know these storms that cause destruction are completely random and have nothing to do with God. Church buildings get destroyed just as often as any other buildings during storms. So those who pick and choose which events are acts of God are being completely dishonest.
It is plausible many of the stories in the Bible are based on actual events, but it is the cause of those events that are misinterpreted by those who wrote the Bible. Take the story of Job; which basically says God made a bet with Satan that Job would still worship God even if things were bad. So God kills his wife, children, livestock, etc., and Job still worships God. Because of this he is blessed with much more than he had in the first place. Would that have been moral of God to kill his family just to prove a point to Satan? It’s disgusting and completely immoral but people seem to have no problem with this. Would God really play these games with our lives? If so, how is he a moral God? People back than would have been questioning why are these awful things happening to Job? Because of their belief that God is controlling everything, their explanation was that God must have made a bet with Satan to see if Job would still worship God. But it is more rational that Job was a good man who was successful, and when tragedy happened in his life he was able to recover.
Belief in God has been around for thousands of years and it has had a lot of time to work out many of the kinks it would have had in its early years. The Bible has been written and rewritten many times. Many books of the Bible have been voted on by the church whether they should or shouldn’t be included; would God have wanted us to vote on what we think his word is? Of course not, but the church was able to do this and rewrite the history of how the Bible was put together. It is also important to remember that back then, only people high up in the church had access to the Bible, so it was very easy for people not to realize that the Bible was changing over the years.
Christians will agree that the Bible has been translated many times, and most know the Bible has things in it that are immoral which contradict what Gods nature would be. However, they will argue that during the translations people corrupted the Bible and that’s why these immoral acts are condoned in the Bible. When the truth is that they kept translating it so that it would become more moral and would stand up better in time. After all, the point was to get people to believe God existed and that he was moral so they would follow.
Once Bibles were accessible to everyone, it became much harder to change the Bible to keep it updated with the new findings that were discovered by science. This includes the acceptable social actions that were allowed by people. This explains why the Bible condoned slavery; since there really was no all-powerful moral God guiding them, they didn’t know it was wrong. However, it is hard to believe they didn’t think this was wrong, but because it benefited them to say there is nothing immoral about slavery, they never spoke up against it since they enjoyed the free labor. It has been said that “gods tend to behave a lot like their creators”. This definitely holds true to the Bible.
Many theists are very dishonest about the topic of slavery in the Bible, saying that back then it was much different than the slavery we know today, and it was a way to pay back a debt. While this is true, there is the other form of slavery that was extremely brutal. Theists and apologist will not recognize this even though it is clearly shown in the Bible. They will say, “You are taking it out of context”, when there is no other way it can be read. God couldn’t possibly be such a bad communicator that he says the opposite of what he means.
(Read: Leviticus 25:44-46 and Deuteronomy 20:10-15)
As society progressed people realized that owning another person is wrong, but because the Bible was already available to the public before understanding how wrong slavery was, it was too late to change it in the Bible. This is the same reason why the Bible says women are not equal to men, and slaughtering nations who don’t believe in the same God is moral. Although, those are just a few examples and there are many other immoral acts that the Bible condones.
(Read: 1 Corinthians 14:34, 1 Timothy 2:9-15, Deuteronomy 22:23-24, Deuteronomy 22:28-29, Exodus 21:7-11)
Religion has been passed down for so many years and indoctrinated into children at such young ages; it is easy for people to believe it when it is all they have been taught. How can all these people before us have been so wrong, right? After all, they were closer to the time of Jesus than we are, so one would think they must be a reliable source. Well, why didn’t Jesus feel the need to write a single word in his own book? Why did over 80 years go by that people finally decided to write about the resurrection of Christ? If this event actually happened, wouldn’t people have written about it the day it happened or at least within the same week? Christians will say there were eyewitnesses of the account but there is no evidence for that. In fact, there is evidence that shows there weren’t any eyewitnesses. But somehow, Christians use the fact that each account in the gospels is a little different as somehow proof of eyewitnesses. How is that evidence? The same thing would have happen if there weren’t any eyewitnesses and it was a story that has been passed down generations and embellished over the years or just made up. Most people know the same story of Rudolph the red nose reindeer, but that doesn’t mean there were any eyewitnesses of this happening.
Most theists will agree that Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John did not write the gospels. Authors back then in order to make their writings seem more credible would put a name on a document of someone who would help it get more attention. Many Christians will say the gospels weren’t written that long after the death of Christ and many would estimate 50-80 years after Christ. Even if this was true, how can we look at the red letters, which are said to be Christ’s words and say they are an accurate account of what he said? Most people can’t remember what they heard the day after, but people have no problem thinking 50-80 years after will be an accurate account of what he said?!? That is just not possible.
If God does exist and the reason the Bible is hard to understand is because man has ruined the accuracy of the Bible. Why couldn’t God speak to us today in as clear of a manner as it seemed he did to Moses? Why would he punish people today by not clearly revealing the truth to us, since those before us are the ones who corrupted the Bible? Actually, there have been many who have said they do talk to God, and most of them have mental problems. David Koresh had many followers, and we know he wasn’t really talking to God. People do not debate this.
Why would so many people follow David Koresh when it was so clear to everyone on the outside that he wasn’t talking to God? They followed him because the human mind is easily susceptible to delusion. People believe what they are taught; this is why if you are born in India, you most likely are Hindu. If you were brought up in Afghanistan you would be Muslim. Those who are born in the United States would be some form of Christianity whether it’s Catholic, Baptist, non-denominational, etc.
Some Christians will claim they are right because it is the most popular of any religion. Just because one religion is more popular than the others doesn’t make it correct. It just means it is the most popular. There is a very good reason why Christianity is the most popular and it is not because it is true. It is because during 1478-1834 in Spain, its goal was to unify the country and it was populated with people of mixed beliefs including Catholicism, Islam, Protestantism and Judaism. Spain chose Catholicism as the religion they wanted to unite the country with and decided to publicly kill anyone who claimed to be anything but Christian. Those who were not Christian and caught would sometimes have the option to expose others who were non-believers and in return would only be sentenced to life in prison instead of death. This period was called the Spanish Inquisition. This fear of being anything but Christian would have quickly made people change their beliefs, and helped Christianity grow in popularity.
Christianity will say that those who try to get rid of religion in school and society are being influenced by Satan in order to turn people away from God. When the real reason people want to get rid of it is because it causes violence and the Spanish Inquisition is a perfect example of that. There are countless examples of it, the KKK who claim to be Baptist, and terrorist who claim to be Muslim. Most atheists would not have a problem with religion if it didn’t cause harm to innocent people, but because it does they are against it. It is not because they are trying to do the work of Satan, whom they don’t believe exists either.
Children are afraid of monsters in their closet and under their bed. But there is no reason for them to believe they actually exist. Religion is adult’s monster in the closest. There is no reason to believe it is true, but if it promises that they don’t go to a fiery hell and they get to live in heaven for eternity they will believe it and it is because of their fear of hell they don’t question it. The fact is that we are most likely to believe what the rest of our family believes, because that is what we were taught, not because we have studied all the other religions and have chosen the right one. No matter what religion someone is, they are all told they are the ones who are right, so they believe it and don’t search any further. It is extremely comforting to believe that after this life we will get to see our loved ones again and live in a paradise for eternity, but it doesn’t make it true. It may be a buzz kill to point this out, but it is reality. Facing reality does have its upside though, it allows us to want to make the best of what we have now and appreciate life, and not waste the one life we have because we think there is a whole eternity for us in heaven to look forward to. It can also make us stronger individuals and willing to work hard and go after our goals in life because we know that we can’t rely on a god to do it for us. It can give us greater confidence in ourselves when we achieve something. We are allowed to say I did this and be proud of what we accomplished, rather than tell ourselves we could not have done it without God.
So with all the evidence we have on why we should question whether a god exist, why do people still believe it? Is it because it is a taboo subject to question and we are fearful of what will happen if we do? Yes, that is one reason. It is also because again we are extremely susceptible to delusion and form an emotional attachment to a god that we think is there, just as children can believe in Santa Clause or the tooth fairy. I suspect that if we were to tell children they must believe in Santa Clause or they will not receive any presents and will die a terrible death, most of us would still believe in him as adults. If we still weren’t getting presents on Christmas, we would make excuses saying things like, “because he is real, there is no way he could have made it to all the houses” or of course, “I just wasn’t very good this year”. We could constantly keep changing our story of who Santa Clause is in order to justify still believing in him.
It is extremely comforting to think that the creator of the universe is listening to us talk and he is on our side to help us through our struggles. When we pray it is a form of therapy and when we think that everything happens for a reason and God has a plan for us, we feel better. We feel like it is no longer under our control and God will take care of it. It’s extremely comforting, and we don’t want to give that up.
Many people who are religious that have studied their belief know deep down that it is irrational, just as Charles Templeton came to the realization that what he was preaching was not true. It is rare to come to this conclusion because we are so emotionally attached. Christians feel they have a personal relationship with Jesus, and to them it seems very real. They feel comforted after having talks with him in their head. For a Christian to come to the conclusion their belief is not true is like losing a best friend who has been helping them all throughout their life. It is too scary for them to come to the conclusion that there is no rational evidence for believing what they do. If Christians do have a real personal relationship with God, why isn’t there a consistent answer to how they talk to him? Wouldn’t God speak to everyone the same? If people get a tingly feeling after praying, it is not because they talked to God, it is because they feel better and are more relaxed and can think clearly about the situation. They feel better because they believe God is now going to take care of their problem.
So how often does God answer their prayer? To Christians, he always answers prayer, because God answers prayer with a “yes”, “no”, or “not right now”. If what they prayed for happens, God said “yes”. If it didn’t happen, God may be saying “no”, or “not right now”. So if it happens 5 years later, to them it was God who answered their prayer. So thinking of it that way, people praying to a bottle of ketchup would still get their prayers answers, but everyone would agree that a bottle of ketchup cannot answer prayers.
When Christians are asked to show proof that God exist, some will just say “you have to believe it on faith”. The classic chair example is constantly used, that when one sits in a chair they are putting their faith in it to hold them up. But is that really faith? Isn’t there plenty of evidence that shows the chair is most likely going to hold them up? There is actually a lot of evidence that shows it will. We know it’s made of steel, wood or plastic and that it is designed strong enough to hold us. We can even test it before sitting by pushing down on it to see if it’s sturdy. We can also see that people around us are sitting down and it is holding them up. We know that we have sat in a chair before, and even though there might have been that one time it failed on us, they usually hold us up. That is a lot of evidence. However, when verse Mark 16:18 is brought up, where Jesus said, “If they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover”, but they refuse to drink deadly poison. What happened to their faith?
Religious people will say, but if God doesn’t exist, how did we get here? Well, science actually has very good answers for this, and while science doesn’t have all the answers yet, it doesn’t make God anymore real. If we were to claim we have all the answers, we put an end to really discovering the answers. Think of all the things we would still believe if we stopped searching. We would still believe the world is flat, that the sun rotates around us, and that the world is the center of the universe. Saying we know the answers when we don’t, restricts us of ever learning the truth and causes us to be ignorant.
There have been many studies done that show most individuals will follow what the majority does. They feel if they are the only one who thinks differently, they must be wrong. They think, how could all these people be wrong and I be the only one who is right? Of course this is not always true, and few will go against the group. On the TV show, What Would You Do, there was an experiment where about 15 people (who were all in on the experiment) were at a large table filling out job applications. However, one woman was not in on the experiment, and smoke started filling the room. She knew there could be a fire and was looking around the room, but everyone else just kept filling out their application. Because no one else was making it an issue and didn’t leave, she didn’t either and continued filling out her application in the room. They continued this same experiment and everyone if not all stayed in the room. When people are unsure about something they tend to follow the majority. Many studies have shown that people are torn between obeying authority even when they are being told to do something wrong, but will often obey authority despite the fact it’s wrong. Combine social influence, authority, emotional attachment, easily susceptible to delusion, hope, and fear, and it is easy to see why so many people still believe in God.
In addition to all those reasons for why people believe in God, the fact that the church only presents one view is another reason why so many people believe. There is no group gathering that preaches the non-existence of God. Atheists don’t really compete against the church and proselytize to bring people to their side. So if only one side is being taught of course there will be more believers than non-believers. If the church is so confident and has evidence that God exists, they should be willing to have debates inside the church. However, the church discourages listening or reading anything that opposes their belief because they say it is Satan trying to deceive them. This is of course ridiculous, but people believe it and don’t question it. The best way to decide what is true is to look at both sides and determine which is more plausible. This is why we have courts and judges. Everyone would agree that if a jury based their judgment on listening to only one side, it would not be a fair trial. So why doesn’t society do this with their faith, when we know that looking at both sides is the best way to determine what is true.
The fact is that there is no evidence that God exist, and we are easily susceptible to believing it due to so many different reasons. If we think God is real, we can easily justify anything that happens as the result of God, causing us to reinforce our belief. Once people have learned how to do this it is extremely hard for them to change their mindset. People have invested so much of their life to their belief, and have built their whole life around their faith. They wouldn’t know who they are if they didn’t have it in their life. It is truly brainwashing. Most atheists would admit they wish it were true that God existed, but they aren’t going to believe it just because it makes them feel good. Coming to the realization that one’s belief is not true can be hard to recover from, so it is easier for people to stay delusional and ignore the fact that there is a lack of evidence for the existence of their god.