Tuesday, 22 July 2014

I have a problem with the Bible

I'm an atheist tweeting to a choir, to borrow a phrase, of some 29,280 followers (at the time of writing), most of whom are fellow atheists, about my displeasure and confusion with all things religion. So a blog titled 'I have a problem with the Bible' is probably not going cause many stirs. 

But it's not the condoning of rape, the genocide, the murder, the slavery and the like that I'm going to highlight here, though yes, I have a problem with those things too. 

It's this: The bible is not convincing. 

Now some of you may want to interrupt here and say that there's some two billion Christians that will tell me (and believe me, they will tell me) that it *is* convincing. And therein lies the problem. Two billion Christians. There are 7 billion humans on this planet. That means if we did a survey and got instant results we'd find this - only 2 in 7 humans find the bible convincing. 

Under normal circumstances I wouldn't be one to say that truth is determined by the amount of people who support (or not) a claim. But when we're talking about whether or not something is convincing it's not as subjective as whether or not, say, a movie is 'good' or a cake is 'tasty'. 

Ultimately, yes, whether or not the bible is convincing is down to the individual assessing it but when looked at it on a population level if as many as 5 in 7 people are not convinced, we can safely say that overall...it's not convincing. For every 2 people that believe it, there are 5 who don't. Maybe you could say that it's not 'completely convincing', but it's 'convincing enough'. But is it? 

Really, this shouldn't matter. But this isn't the work of a movie director or cake baker. This is not a piece of art up for critique by a man wearing a jacket with elbow patches and sporting a beard sans moustache, it's not a sports person whose achievements, or lack of, are being discussed by the regulars at the local bar. This is, allegedly, the work of a god. 

A god that loves us all. A god that wants us to be saved*. It is a god that will, apparently, if we're not convinced by the bible story, allow us to be sent to a lake of fire, for eternity**.

2 in 7 is a terrible success rate when the consequences are so dire. 2 in 7 is a complete and utter failure when the author of the plan is omniscient. 

Opponents will now shout at me 'Free will'. And yeah, go for it. Tell me that this god character has allowed us to believe in him, or not, via our free will. Great. Fantastic. I don't question the free will part, I get that.

My question - why did he come up with a plan that only 2 in 7 people will accept via free will? Could god have come up with a plan that 5 in 7 people would believe? I would have thought so. How about 7 in 7? Tough, no doubt, but remember we're not talking human capabilities here, this is a GOD! My believing friends have been known to inform me that with god, all things are possible. If this is true, one must accept that coming up with a story that all people will believe whilst allowing us to keep our free will, is possible. 

So given the dire consequences combined with the claim that the bible is of omniscient origin...why doesn't it convince all people? Because it's made up, that's why. 

There are, no doubt, many people who've not been exposed to the bible so one may argue that these people are not unconvinced as such, they just haven't had the opportunity to be convinced. If you were talking about Jo Rowling trying to convince people that the magical world of the Potters, Weasleys, Grangers, and Malfoys was real then this would be an understandable allowance. How could the world's population be convinced that there was, in fact, a school of Witchcraft and Wizardry by the name of Hogwarts if they had never heard of such a place? Fair point. 

But again, we're not talking about things that are subject to human constraints. If needing to believe in Jesus as the son of bible-god is what's required to be saved then why doesn't bible-god make sure everyone knows about, and believes in, Jesus? Because it's made up, that's why. 

Keep in mind, this isn't something trivial. Believers will tell us that this is our eternal soul that's on the line here. This is not a case of leaving the milk out and it going off. It's definitely not something that you'd expect a god that loves us to leave up to chance. He wants me in heaven, he is capable of having me there. He knows exactly what it would take to have me there - reason. Yet, he provides me none, and he withholds that reason knowingly. 

There are any number of Christian apologists who will try to tell me there is reason and they will make up all sorts of new nonsense to try to justify the old nonsense that is in the bible. God created everything in 6 days you say? Well....a 'bible' day and what we call a 'day' aren't the same thing, don't you know? Back then, a day could have been an age! Ah huh. Sure. Funny how the bible didn't just say that, isn't it? 

I once asked a pastor why his god came up with a story that convinced him but not me. He said he didn't know. 

If the bible were truly the word of a god who loved us, who wanted us in heaven with him, and who made belief in this story the only criteria for getting into heaven, then it would be convincing to all people, not to only 2 in 7 people. It would be a sensible story whose plot was recognisable as truth to all people, not only 2 in 7 people. 

I can conclude nothing from this other than the bible is fiction. The condition of belief in it  for heaven is fiction. And that the god behind it who apparently loves me, but will let me burn in hell forever, is also fiction. 

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*saved by Jesus from what he/God will do to us if we don't believe. Utter nonsense. 

**eternity? Seriously? 



6 comments:

  1. Another Oz Atheist22 July 2014 at 20:19

    I just wish the believers would sit still for a few minutes and actually listen to what we have to say and then logically think about it. That is without interrupting their thoughts with the dogma and mantras the church teaches them.

    If someone comes to any of us now and told us that a burning bush talked to him, or he saw someone float up into the sky, we would take him to a psychiatric ward. But somehow when it happened 3500(?) years ago, it was gospel. Please.

    Speaking about Harry Potter, can you remember how the catholic church and other religious groups went on about how it would make children believe in spirits or whatever? And they wanted the books banned. Here is only one link of many:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religious_debates_over_the_Harry_Potter_series

    If the religious lot are SO afraid that something as innocuous as Harry Potter would make people go off the rails, it doesn't say much about how valid they think their own beliefs are. And it says a lot about how gullible they themselves are and think other people are.

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  2. If an omnipotent god allegedly bequeaths part of its power in the form of free will to its creation, it ceases to be omnipotent. 2 out of 7 is just under a third of mankind. May not be true but it's a successful con job. It doesn't have to convince everyone, just enough gullible people to use as a bludgeon against the rest of society.

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  3. I suspect my reaction when reading this, was the same as many others. Well, YEAH!!! After reading the first few books of either the old or New Testament we are given a pretty clear indication of how it's set to continue. It's horrific! The content of the bible is enough to curl your hair!
    Giving us the stats regarding readership just adds another dimension to the sheer implausibility of the whole concept of Christianity, or any religion for that matter.
    In my experience, it appears that the bible has the status of a sacred artifact in the mind of believers. It's revered simply because it is, and not because the content of the text within. That's probably why most of those who have actually read what it has to say are atheists.
    Warming to the theme, I'd just like to add my particular hated passages. I've added another In Judges 19 to my all time favourite hated passages Deuteronomy 19-22 ( being a woman and all). That's not to say that I completely dismiss the instances of dashing babies heads against rocks etc! All ghastly,vile stuff worthy of a Hollywood horror film. And only 2 in 7 can access this?
    Thanks for the stimulating article. I like to set my brain to work in the morning and reading the email did the trick.

    @ Anita

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  4. I'll be brief, but another thought has come to mind. Believers wonder why I have such a problem with religion. Why not simply confine it to the dustbin of ideas and think no more about it? I'm hostile in my reactions because it's an insult to the intelligence. Why otherwise rational human beings can give any credence to this nonsense is beyond my ken!
    End of rant!

    @ Anita

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    Replies
    1. Another Oz Atheist23 July 2014 at 13:28

      Well if they are scared that Harry Potter would convert some of their flock to occultism, how rational are they really? Seems they do believe in the occult too.

      A reborn christian I knew said that mental illness is possession by demons or evil spirits or whatever he called it. WTF? Strange then that it can be cured by chemical medications. Which he said of course that is god doing the work through the doctors. Sigh. He will NEVER go on the physical evidence without saying god had a hand in it.

      And this on 22/07/2014: The English cricket team being scared to stay in a "haunted" hotel:
      http://www.smh.com.au/sport/cricket/englands-cricket-demise-gets-scary-20140722-zvpcb.html

      WTF?

      I think we are fighting a losing battle. I've been reading a lot of twitter lately and come to the conclusion that over 99% of religious people are not going to change their minds. They just turn our arguments around and say we hate them where they actually hate us and wish we'll burn in hell etc. PLENTY of tweets saying that. And they say that talking to us is not just like talking to a brick wall, but a wall of hatred. If ever I've seen hypocrisy and irony...

      And here is one of them wanting to kill atheists, an oldie but a goodie:
      http://onemansblog.com/2011/08/06/christians-openly-advocate-killing-athiests-on-fox-news-facebook-page/

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  5. Bravo!
    Very clear and such musings should bring about pause for the faithful.

    As usual, your writings are greatly enjoyed :)

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