For most of my life, I intentionally avoided hard questions about the Christian faith. I rationalized and compartmentalized. I routinely threw my hands up figuring “there were answers” to the difficult questions about Christianity but there were none.
What follows are a few of those difficult questions.
The Flood of Noah (If you believe the story is true): Why would a supreme being create a world, and then a few thousand years later decide to kill everyone except for one man and his family? Apparently, God’s own creation turns out to be corrupt and evil (He didn’t know that would happen??). Why does a deity make the situation even worse by choking out the innocent life of children? If you’re God, why go through the elongated method to kill? If a supreme being regretted creating humanity (as Genesis 6:6 states), why doesn’t he just snap his fingers and start over? Why cause all the incredible anguish? And why kill all of the innocent animals in the process?
If the story is true, why is there no scientific evidence of a world-wide flood on the earth? Instead we find overwhelming evidence that the earth is incredibly old with fossil records that stretch back for millions of years. If God created the earth less than 10,000 years ago, why do we find fossilized species in the strata (rock layers) which shows a slow progression of evolutionary life over very long periods of time? If human life began at the same time as all other life, why is it that we can find countless examples of fossilized remains for most life forms, except for humans? If, as some would say, “any contradictory evidence against the Bible is there to test our faith”, then why do that? If you’re God, why perpetrate a ruse?
The Flood Story (continued): Why is it that after Noah disembarks from the ark, he is compelled to kill and burn some of the animals to please God? Why is a supreme being pleased with the aroma of burning flesh? Genesis 8:21 says “The Lord smelled the pleasing aroma…”. If Noah was chosen as the only righteous man alive, why does God’s “only righteous man” grow a vineyard, get drunk and naked, and then curse one of his sons for merely seeing him naked? (Gen. 9:20-22). And even if something else happened beyond mere nakedness, why does this righteous man curse his son Ham and all his descendants to lives of slavery? (Noah says of Ham and his descendants, “the lowest of slaves will [they] be to his brothers!“). How is that righteous or moral? Or is it more likely that this fictional story merely served as justification for one tribe to exert righteous authority over another tribe and enslave them?
Slavery: Speaking of slavery, why does a book that purports to give moral code endorse slavery at all? Aside from murder, enslaving another human being is one of the most immoral things a human can do against another human. So why does a holy book endorse it? (Lev. 25:44-46). Some say that the Bible merely allowed the practice, but if that were true, why give rules on the treatment of slaves including how hard you may beat them with a rod? (Exodus 21:2-6, 21-21). And why allow a father to sell his daughter as a sex slave to another man? (Exodus 21:7-11). Also, if slavery was just a horrible thing from the Old Testament days which God allowed, why did Jesus or the apostles not condemn it? Instead they commanded slaves to “obey their earthly masters” (Ephesians 6:5). Why give commands about a thousand other trivial things but not give commands to abolish this immoral treatment of other human beings?
Blood sacrifices: Why have all of the barbarism and blood sacrifice of animals? If God is benevolent and loving, why create animals with extremely complex nervous systems that can feel pain and who will suffer immensely when offered up as a sacrifice? Why is gutting and burning animal flesh described as “pleasing to God”? Or is it more likely that these ancient tribal people just believed that the pleasing aroma of cooked meat was also pleasing to the supreme being that they assumed caused all of the thunder, lightning and natural disasters that randomly befell them? Or were these burnt offerings just a variation on earlier pagan rituals of sacrifice to help call on the gods for rain during droughts, and/or to appease the gods for the natural disasters that occurred on the planet?
Abraham and Issac: Abraham is a very prominent character in the Old Testament, but why would God ask Abraham to “take your son, your only son, whom you love — Isaac — and sacrifice him [on the mountain] as a burnt offering“? If you are an omniscient God and you know us to the degree that the Bible purports (i.e., you know even our unspoken thoughts), why ask a father to murder his child to test his faith? Why ask him to do something grossly immoral as a test? And if the request was meant to be the hardest thing imaginable for a father to do (kill his beloved son), how would others in the future correctly discern if/when they are asked by an imaginary voice to do the same horrendous thing? We have had cases of parents who believed exactly this — that God commanded them to kill their children as a test of faith — and unfortunately their children are now dead! So how is the example of Abraham’s test of faith not an example for other parents to follow? And does this request by God not just come across as petty and egotistical? (i.e., “if you truly love me, you’ll kill for me if I ask you to!”).
Killing Others: When is it ever morally justifiable to kill all the innocent women, children, and animals in a military conquest? (Deuteronomy 13:13-19). Why does the Old Testament give the commandment of “thou shalt not murder”, but then gives many commands to kill: those who don’t listen to priests (Deut. 17:12); kill those believed to be a witch or sorceress (Ex. 22:17); kill a man who lies down with another man (homosexual) (Lev. 20:13); kill fortunetellers (Lev. 20:27); kill children who strike their father or mother (Ex. 21:15) or who curse their parent (Lev. 20:9); kill those who commit adultery or fornication (Lev. 20:10, 21:9); and kill those who were non-believers or followers of other gods (2 Chron. 15:12-13, Ex. 22:19). And if God is a God of mercy, why command that a new bride be stoned to death by the town if it’s discovered that she’s not a virgin? (Deut. 22:20-21). If God is so displeased with this sort of conduct, why doesn’t God strike down those sinners with a big bolt of lightning? Doing so would certainly have had a very compelling effect on those who witnessed such a frightening display of power. Why stain the hands of innocent people with the horrible action of killing others for their deeds? Or is it more likely that these rules were man-made and gave control to the rulers of the time?
Sex, rape and body parts: Why is God so concerned with the flap of skin at the tip of a man’s penis? Why is God so concerned with whether a girl’s flap of skin (hymen) is still intact on her wedding night? Why is the Bible so hateful and misogynist toward girls such that virgin girls are viewed as “spoils of war” for the men of Israel to enjoy? (Numbers 31:7-18). Similarly, why are virgins spared during a military conquest (Judges 21:10-24) while women and young boys are to be slaughtered without mercy? Why is it okay for a man to rape a girl with the only penalty for the offense being that the rapist need just pay the father some shekels of silver and then marry his victim? (Deut. 22:28-29). How is that moral or just? And if the Old Testament is to be viewed as “oh, that was just how things were in the past” then why did Jesus say that he “did not come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.”? (Matt. 5:17-19).
Creation: Why is a holy book that is supposedly authored by God so horribly inaccurate and contradictory about the creation account? Why is the written account for the order of things created not even consistent between Genesis 1 and 2? Why is the order of creation not even logically or scientifically accurate? For example, how can there be light and darkness (day and night) on the first day of creation when the sun and stars aren’t created until the 4th day? Wouldn’t it be redundant to create the sun on the 4th day if there’s already light on the first day? And why are plants made on the 3rd day before the sun is in place to drive their photosynthetic process? Why does it say that God made two great lights (1:16) — the sun and the moon — when we know that the moon doesn’t create light — it merely reflects the sun’s light? And why after creating those two great lights does the Bible say (like an afterthought) that “he made the stars also” which we now know are so great in number (300 sextillion) that they outnumber the grands of sand on the earth? And why does Genesis say that the earth was made before the sun and stars, which clearly contradicts the evidence of the age of the universe (13.7 billion) vs. the age of the earth (4.5 billion)? The issues with the creation account are so numerous, it begs the question as to how one could conclude the Bible is “the word of God” instead of the early imaginations of men?
Hell and the Lake of Fire: Why is there an utter lack of harmony on the doctrine of eternal torment in the Old Testament vs. the New Testament? If our eternal destiny is so important, why does the Old Testament — the most voluminous section of the Bible — have so little to say about life after death? For the 31 occurrences of Sheol (grave) in the OT, why weren’t readers warned of a future eternal torment if there was one? When hell is brought up in the New Testament, why is it Jesus (meek and mild), who gives us the doctrine of eternal suffering which includes such descriptive words like wailing and gnashing of teeth? Why would a loving God choose the most horrific type of pain that the human body can experience (burning flesh) as the picture for eternal torment? Why make it last forever? And why would a loving God use a threat (hell) to inspire a relationship with that same God?
I am a flawed human being but I’m also the parent of 5 beautiful kids. I will always love them no matter what they might do in the future. They could curse me, reject me, spit on me and deny me but I would still love them. If man was created in God’s image and if He is the author of love and the greatest thought magnified, how could a compassionate, nurturing father send his offspring into eternal torment? Why is merely “not believing” such a profound crime? Why are petty crimes worthy of hell? And finally, why would a loving God who is omniscient (all-knowing) create human beings that He knows will reject Him, and let them suffer in a lake of fire, forever and ever?
Or is it more likely, that these are man-made contrivances to convince people through extreme fear to follow the commands of those who want to be in control?
>>> This is continued in part 2 <<<