Thursday, September 27, 2007

My Doctrinal Issues With Christianity

Note: These are my doctrinal issues with Christianity. I am not preaching that they should be yours.

There are a number of different ways to challenge the validity of Christianity from:
- literature analyses that show when certain verses were written which erode claims that they were eyewitness accounts or contradict the notion that certain passages came directly from god to his prophets
- to historical reviews that show how the books were selected to be included in the Bible and how Christian doctrines evolved from the Christian fathers to today
- from comparative analyses between the different sects (Coptic, Armenian, Eastern Orthodox, Catholic, Protestant) who all seem to be able to justify their differing beliefs
- from archaeological evidence that shows the development of Jewish and Christian myths over time by borrowing from neighboring myths
- to everything from DNA evidence to fossil records to cosmic radiation, etc, that shows things such as the creation of the world, the Fall of Adam and Eve and a worldwide flood did not happen as the Bible claims.


But, the angle I would like to focus on in this thread is my doctrinal issues with Christianity. Below is a list of issues that I have (now not all Christians believe in all these doctrines, but each belief that I list is held by someone who claims to be Christian):

1) Supposedly, a person must accept Christ or they go to hell. It seems very unfair that a god would send the great majority of the humans to hell for not accepting Christ when most have never heard of Christ because they lived before his time or lived in areas of the world in which Christ was never preached. And then there are the many people who may have heard of Christ, but did not accept him because they were too indoctrinated into their own religion to give the message of Christ a fair chance. (At least Mormonism had a response to this through the teaching in spirit prison, but Christians believe one must accept Christ in this life).

2) Catholics (used to?) believe that little children who were not baptized went to limbo. I don't know what other Christians think happens to children who are too young to accept Christ. But, that Catholic idea is horribly unfair. (At least Mormons say that all little children get a free ticket to heaven).

3) I think it is rather sick and twisted that instead of just forgiving humans for sinning when they repent, god sent his son to suffer excruciating pain and be put to death in a rather gruesome way. The Christian god is all-powerful, so he did not have to set up that gory experience, but did anyway. (The Mormon god is not all powerful, so he had to have someone suffer to pain for sins in order to save his other children from suffering, because the universe demands justice).

4) The whole idea of eternal torment in hell is messed up. We humans give limited sentences proportional to the crime, but God supposedly makes us suffer in hell forever. One would think that after 100 billion years in hell, we would have paid for every sin we ever committed during our 75 years on earth, but nope, we will suffer forever! We humans give punishments, among other reasons, to help people learn not to do the bad thing again. But, there is no point to making us sufferer after death, the test is over, we failed and we can't retake it. We have no opportunity to grow or demonstrate improved behavior. Although the threat of suffering after death might serve a purpose during earth life, once mortality is over, suffering serves no purpose and is gratuitous (one no longer can improve one's situation by changing and one is already separated from those one could harm, so why have suffering in hell?) At least in Mormonism, "eternal punishment" is not endless, it is only called eternal because god's name is eternal.



5) How unjust is it that Gandi and Hitler get the exact same afterlife because neither accepted Jesus as their savior? Accepting Jesus is a "get out of hell free" card. Christians believe even murderers can go to heaven just like Mother Teresa if they just accept Christ. At least with Mormonism, there are differing degrees of glory and murder is not covered by Christ's atonement and must be paid for by the sufferer personally.



6) Why would god choose this little Middle Eastern tribe that did not really come of age until 3,000 years ago to be his special people to receive his essential instructions and messages for all the rest of us. And why, throughout the Old Testament does he instruct this tribe to start wars of aggression and often tell them that they are his favorite people. Sounds an awful lot like this tribe just invented him to stroke their egos and justify their actions just like so many other tribes did before and after them?



7) God supposedly is entirely responsible for creating us; he gave us ever attribute we were born with. Now, some say that he did not give us our fallen natures, that we inherited that as a result of the Fall of Adam and Eve. But, he set up the Fall, and he created Adam and Eve with the capacity to be beguiled, surely god knew when he gave them the capacity to be beguiled that Satan would beguile them and they would eat. It is bad thinking to think they had a choice. They ate the fruit because they were tricked; they were tricked because god did not sufficently equip them so that they would not be tricked by Satan. It is god's fault that they were tricked, since he could have prepared them but did not. And it is god's fault that we have fallen natures and weaknesses. If we don't ask god to help us overcome our weaknesses, it is because we did not have enough faith or we are mistrustful or we have a rebellious spirit. God could have given us enough faith but did not, he could have made us more trusting or given us the experiences to make us more trusting but did not, he could have given us a less rebellious spirit, but did not. We do what we do because of what we are, and we are what we are because god made us that way. Sometimes, we are what we are due to how our parents raised us or due to what others have done to us. Those people are the way they are because of what came before them and on and on until one gets back to the creation of Adam and Eve, which is all god's fault. At each moment of decision, when we could go this way or that, there is a reason why we go the way we go. Whether it is because we were more tempted or inclined to go that way or for some other reason, god could have made the way less tempting, just enough for us to choose the other way, god could have made us more inclined to go the other way, but he didn't. So, how is it right for him to judge us for what we do when we do what we do because of the inclinations, strengths, weaknesses, etc, he gave us. If he wanted a different result, he could have made us stronger and our lives would have played out differently.



8) We did not choose to be made or to go through this earth-test, why can't god be merciful and wipe us out of existence when we die if we were bound for hell? Non-existence is preferrable to eternal torment. Why bring us into existence to live for 75 years and then torture us forever if we did not do what god wanted in those first 75 years? And even if we do exactly what god wants, our reward is to praise god forever. Doesn't this seem narcissitic to you? It is as if I created a bunch of robots to eternally worship me and tell me how great I am. If the robots worship me for the first 75 minutes of their lives, I reward them by allowing them to worship me forever, if not, then I send them to robot hell to be tortured forever. WTF?



9) God is supposed to be all powerful and all loving, yet he lets needless suffering occur. If a human is around and they see a child being torn apart by a bulldog, they will risk their own lives to save the child, but god sees all, watches the child suffer and does nothing even though he has all power. Now, what higher purpose is served by letting the child be ripped to shreds? What can she learn in 5 minutes of mauling that she could not have learned in 1 minute of mauling? How are those extra 4 minutes going to make her a better person or a stronger person? It is not. Even if what we think of as needless suffering somehow makes us better, to what end does becoming a stronger person serve after we die? If we go to heaven, we will be singing praises to god forever. Will the suffering we went through make us a better singer? How will all the attributes we aquire during this life make a difference or have any real meaning, if we all just end up kissing god's butt for all eternity regardless of whether we learned humility or not? At least with Mormonism, one was really preparing for something, one could imagine how humility and wisdom could be useful as a god or goddess and eternal parent/trainer.



10) I have a big problem with two of Christ's teachings, which he taught repeatedly: intolerance of unbelievers, and leaving one's unbelieving family. To see scriptural examples, please read my post here .



11) The god of the Old Testament is horrible. Even if he were real, I would not want anything to do with him. In my opinion no one should try to be like him or develop his attributes. For more on this browse the skeptics annotated bible , some of their interpretations are a bit off, but they demonstrate more than enough real problems to be worth while. Pay particular attention to the injustice, cruelty and violence, and intolerance highlights.


12) The Hebrew God appears to be a racist because lineage is awfully important to him. Only those who are descended from Levi can hold the priesthood and officiate in the temple. Throughout the Old Testament, only those descended from Israel are God's Chosen People. When Jesus comes, he tells his disciples to preach only to the Israelites at first and says that it is not appropriate to give the children's bread (gospel) to the dogs (Gentiles). He makes exception for the Samaritans because they are half-Hebrew. It does not matter that supposedly now the gospel can be preached to all, for those people at those times the Hebrew God was a respecter of persons according to their lineage, or race.

13) There are many more, but I can't remember them all right now. Please feel free to add your own to this thread.



One can experience a lot of cognitive dissonance engaging in mental gymnastics trying to make Christian theology work. It was a big relief to me when I learned of all the evidence that shows that Biblical theology is likely to be just as made up as ancient Egyptian, Greek, or Hindu theology.



Now there are Christians who take the cafeteria approach to Christianity, just as NOM's do with Mormonism, and reject concepts like hell or an all powerful God and kind of build their own version of Christianity. I am fine with that as long as they don't claim that this new version that they just invented is absolute truth.



I could never go from Mormonism to Christianity. As demonstrated above, Christianity reintroduces problems that Mormonism had solutions for, furthermore, I know too much about Christian origins to ever believe it is real.


In pointing out the theology of Mormonism above, I was not trying to encourage a readoption of those views, hopefully, we all know by now the evidence against Mormon doctrine being true. Joseph Smith and Sydney Rigdon borrowed from the great thinkers such as Swedenborg and Campbell and Luther and others and presented as revelations the possible solutions to Christian theological problems that these authors wrote about.

3 comments:

Timothy said...

Greetings! Saw your post in Google Blogsearch and came to read.

>"1)...a person must accept Christ or they go to hell. It seems very unfair that a god would send the great majority of the humans to hell for not accepting Christ when most have never heard of Christ..."

That is the opinion of a small minority of Christians. Catholics, the majority of Christians, do not hold that doctrine. The Catholic Church teaches that the plan of salvation includes non-Christians as well as Christians. Even you are included!

http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/p123a9p3.htm#839

>"2) Catholics (used to?) believe that little children who were not baptized went to purgatory... But, that Catholic idea is horribly unfair."

Um, first, I believe you have confused purgatory with the theological construct of limbo. Second, purgatory is anything but unfair. Purgatory is purification in preparation for entering heaven and God's eternal presence. Any soul undergoing purgatory finishes in heaven. How would that be unfair?

>"3)...The Christian god is all-powerful, so he did not have to set up that gory experience, but did anyway."

Amen, brother. How cool is that? God sent Jesus to die for our sins. We screwed up and He took the rap. He didn't have to, but He did. He really love us. John 3:16

>"4)...But, there is no point to making us sufferer after death, the test is over, we failed and we can't retake it. We have no opportunity to grow or demonstrate improved behavior."

Yep. you got it. Test over, judgement locked in. One test of unknown duration. Get it right the first and only time. God provides all the tools one needs to pass: parents, churches, priests, scriptures, and time to practice and prepare. Its the ultimate open book test and you can ask for help during the test!

>5)... Gandi and Hitler get the exact same afterlife..."

Nope. The majority of the world's Chrstians do not hold that belief. The Bible doesn't support it. See Rev 20:11-14.

>"6) Why would god choose this little Middle Eastern tribe"

He had to pick someone. Also, the geographic locus enabled the most efficient spread of Christianity to both the west and east. Seems God knew the best solution for when and where.

>"7) It is god's fault that they were tricked, since he could have prepared them but did not."

Nope. Not God's fault. God mentioned quite clearly NOT to eat of the tree. God did prepare them.

>"...why can't god be merciful and wipe us out of existence when we die if we were bound for hell?"

Avoid a just punishment? Nah, God is extremely fair.

http://www.catholicculture.org/library/view.cfm?recnum=190

>" our reward is to praise god forever. Doesn't this seem narcissitic to you?"

Nope. If God gets me to heaven, I;'ll be eternally grateful.

>"9)God is supposed to be all powerful and all loving, yet he lets needless suffering occur"

What proof have you that God lets "needless suffering" occur? You might read up on suffering.

http://www.utahmission.com/pages/Why_suffering.html

>"10) I have a big problem with two of Christ's teachings, which he taught repeatedly: intolerance of unbelievers, and leaving one's unbelieving family."

Hmm. The writer of the ultimate open book test tells you how to pass and you have a problem with it? Interesting.

>"11) The god of the Old Testament is horrible."

Ok, You've convinced me not to switch to Judaism, I'll stick with Christianity which is found in the New Testament.

>"cognitive dissonance engaging in mental gymnastics trying to make Christian theology work"

I'm Catholic, so you don't have to tell me. Much of what pases for Christianity is so full of heresy. Fortunately, Catholic theology, the original Christian theology works, if you take the time to study it and not buy into all the myths, misconceptions and heresay. Read the catechism, which only the Catholic Church has and can produce, some time:

http://www.usccb.org/catechism/text/

>"...reject concepts like hell. They are making up their own theology..."

Yes. Yes, they are. They are their own popes. The individual right to interpret scripture as one likes is one of the most pernacious heresies from the "Reformation", Sola Scriptura and Sola Fide are two others.

Thank God the Catholic Church which wrote and assembled the Bible is here to help us interpret the Bible. For 2,000 years the Church has been carefully preserving the Bible and its proper interpretation. Again God provides all the tools and graces to pass the ultimate open book test. How kind and loving of a God is that?

Students of the Seven Seals said...

Right on !
Hell is a fear tactic to make you believe (fear is the begining of knowledge). How happy could the people who did make it to heaven be,knowing that some of their loved ones were being forever tortured by God? It makes no sense.
The things God does in the Bible leaves one with two probabilities, either the whole thing is made up, or God is evil(gnosticism).
As to timothy your other commenter I challenge you to find one passage in the Bible that says there is a purgatory. I suppose I could just believe the Catholic church, but seeing there track record in history I don't think so. By the way the pope isin't any closer to God than me or anyone else. Truth is a internal existential thing, and we don't need anyone imposing their doctrine on us. Jesus never said one thing to support a pope,or anything like that.

Timothy said...

"As to timothy your other commenter I challenge you to find one passage in the Bible that says there is a purgatory."

First, I don't know what you are calling purgatory. To Catholics, purgatory is the final purification given to saved souls prior to entrance into heaven. Like the Trinity, purgatory is an implicit doctrine.

Second, the most obvious reference is St Paul's description in 1 Cor. 3:10-15. Paul is clearly describing events after death. Where is this place where " he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire"? It's not hell, because no one in hell is saved. Its not heaven, as no one in heaven suffers loss. So what's going on here after death if not purification before entry into heaven?

>"Truth is a internal existential thing, and we don't need anyone imposing their doctrine on us."

Defend yourself. You made the statement. Now prove it.

>"Jesus never said one thing to support a pope,or anything like that."

You may unfamiliar with Matthew 16: 17-19 where Christ re-establishes the ancient Davidic office of the Chief Steward found in Isaiah 22:22ff. Christ is giving Peter the keys of office once held by Eliakim.

Later in John 21:15-17 we find Jesus telling only Peter to "feed my sheep" three times.

So, your statement that "Jesus never said one thing to support a pope,or anything like that." would be false.

God bless...