Answering “Questions Christians Can’t Answer” #36 Atrocities in God’s Name?

R. E.Pucket was a faithful Christian for much of his life. However, as he began to expand his reading and investigate arguments against faith, he became convinced that faith was irrational. This impression was strengthened by the fact that Christians with which he interacted largely told him that he should believe for belief’s sake, and that faith trumped rationality.

Pucket now spends a significant amount of time interacting with born again Christians who he feels are trying to convert him and win his soul. He rebuffs these attempts by presenting arguments that seem to stymie these Christians who in turn make vague appeals to “God’s Plan” and blind faith.

In his article, “Top 50 Questions Christians Can’t Answer” on Yahoo voices, Pucket lists out some of the arguments he has found that Christians seem to have no rational, logical answers for, and invites the readers to inspect their faith in light of these questions. Says Pucket:

“Don’t get me wrong, they will have an answer for them. You will find, however, that their answers have no basis in verifiable fact or evidence whatsoever, and will be largely based in their blind faith forsaking all reason.”

This series of articles will examine all fifty of Pucket’s questions, five per article, and offer responses to these questions.

One of the important things that the Pucket list teaches is the danger of dogmatism. If a system of belief stands or falls on every minute doctrine or teaching within the system, then disarming one of these causes the whole thing to fall.Christianity has undergone inspection by hosts of intelligent and thoughtful people over its 2000-year history. Some, like Pucket, have come to the conclusion that it was untenable. Many more have explored different ways of thinking about and applying Christian ideas that do not involve abandoning the system. The very fact that Christianity is a system of thought that allows individual thinkers to explore it, rather than to blindly embrace it, at least suggests that it is not a system of intellectual tyranny.

This author suggests that many of things about Christians popularly believe may be found faulty without the entire system being destroyed. For Christianity to be untrue, it would have to be shown beyond a reasonable doubt that either humans do not require some sort of salvation from evil and suffering, or that no such salvation has been provided.

The answers provided to the questions in this series may not always be punchy rejoinders, magic bullets, or truth bombs. They may be far from convincing to a skeptic; however they do show that Christianity is at the very least internally consistent and existentially plausible.

A variety of the Christian views that Pucket attacks in these questions are held by a very specific sect of Christian believers, and by no means characterize the whole of Christian views. The questions also occasionally make broad statements which either mischaracterize Biblical teachings, or are backed up with no supporting evidence. Where these mistakes are made, the responses are largely aimed at correcting these mischaracterizations. This is not to say that the attack has no merit, but the attack would need to be re-worked to fit a proper representation of that belief.

Finally, it is worth noting that the questions are sometimes phrased in highly emotive or sarcastic forms. These articles will attempt to respond to the fundamental objection being raised, rather than the tone in which they are presented, however the questions themselves will be presented in their original form.

Source

36 – Why are more atrocities committed in the name of God than anything else?

This question seems poorly constructed and unsupportable. If by “God” the question means all gods everywhere, it seems like it might be unfair to lump the God that teaches “turn the other cheek” with the God that commands “make blood sacrifices to end the drought.” If the question is being asked of the Christian God, then it seems patently false. If one were to lump together all of the atrocities committed in the name of money, politics, greed, pride, mental instability, selfish pursuits, and non-Christian religions, the sum would be at least as much if not more than those committed in the name of the Christian God. This claim becomes even more ridiculous if the whole of human history is taken into account, as worshipers of Yahweh were a very small minority until recent history.
The question is usually framed more accurately as “Why are more atrocities committed in the name of religion than anything else?”
The answer to this is that religion presents a very effective tool for justifying any sort of action. If one may simply assign divine authority and approval to their actions and get away with it, they have found the perfect excuse to do anything they like without interference.
Religion, like money, sex, and power, is a perfect method for manipulating people, and wherever such methods exist, there are people who are more than happy to abuse them.
This is probably why Jesus told his followers, “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” Only with wisdom may a canny Christian identify the shysters and power mongers who claim God-given authority, and only by innocence may they avoid being swept up into actions that shame the God with which they identify themselves.
John gives his readers a similar warning: “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.” The Bible anticipates that so-called “false prophets” will arise to lead naïve believers into avenues that violate the teachings of the Christ they claim to follow.

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