Atheist Musings for the Fundamentalist Christian "Soul"
The following seven questions/challenges/musings are intended for fundamentalist Christians. Liberal believers may not recognize themselves in this address.
1. The historical evidence for biblical truth-claims is thin, to be sure. I know of no secular historian who reports on Mary undergoing parthenogenesis, for example. Because this is the case, it seems to me that Christians ought to present some credible secular historical evidence to support their most cherished stories. It is in this spirit I request the names and relevant works of at least two secular record-keepers—who lived at the same time as Jesus—who specifically mention Jesus as well as at least one of his alleged miracles (for example, bringing dead-long-enough-to-stink Lazarus back to life). I have not been presented with any qualifying names yet, so I am curious to hear some.
2. Biblical literalist Christians reject evolutionary theory, despite its near-universal acceptance in the scientific community. Evolution teaches us that various classes of animal roamed the planet (and went extinct) before other classes of animal even existed. Creationists argue that all kinds of animal were created at about the same time; that is, humans and dinosaurs co-existed. Luckily for Young Earth Creationists, there is an extremely easy way to disprove Darwinian evolution: the geologic strata. It is in this spirit I request at least two examples of horse fossils found in the Paleozoic strata (among trilobites, crinoids and other such life forms). Alternatively, I, along with the late J.B.S. Haldane, request at least two examples of fossil rabbits found in the Precambrian.
3. According to fundamentalist Christians, the Bible is the word of god. That is, the Bible was either written by the deity or directly inspired by him. Because the Christian god conception incorporates omniscience, a fundamentalist Christian must conclude the Bible boasts omniscient authorship. However, I think the evidence for such a conclusion is lacking. It is in this spirit I request two examples of biblical passages that provide brand new information about the natural order, which previously had been unavailable to humans living during biblical times. I shall relate an example: If the Bible had mentioned the true age and size of our universe, that would qualify as brand new information about the natural order, because first century commoners did not already possess this information. If the Bible lacks brand new information about the natural order, its claims of omniscient authorship are groundless.
4. The Abrahamic monotheistic superstition truly would be a convincing and persuasive one if it appeared independently in several different cultures, rather than spreading when a Christian population actively attempts to convert a non-Christian population. Allow me to share an example: The atheist would have a difficult-to-defend position if, when Christian European explorers arrived in North America, they discovered that Native Americans were already Abrahamic monotheists. The odds of Yahweh (with his fantastical nature and distinct characteristics) coincidentally being invented by two different populations are vanishingly small. If those Native Americans worshiped Yahweh, it would be strong evidence that the deity revealed himself at least two separate times, to at least two separate populations. It is in this spirit I request at least one well-evidenced example of Abrahamic monotheism being discovered among a geographically isolated population, which never previously had been exposed to an Abrahamic monotheist.
5. Our universe is a breathtakingly vast space. There are about 130 billion galaxies, each containing as many as 400 billion stars. Nobody is certain of how many planets are in our universe. A reasonable (albeit very rough) estimate is about 50,000,000,000,000,000,000,000, which is reached by multiplying 130 billion (galaxies), 400 billion (stars per galaxy) and one (representing planets, because some percentage of stars has them and some lack them). Looking at things through this vast cosmological lens, it seems awfully silly to think this entire creation is for us. After all, our planet is an infinitesimal speck within our own galaxy, let alone our entire universe. The corners of the cosmos hospitable to humans are exceedingly few. One would think that, if our universe was designed with us in mind, we would be able to explore it a bit, rather than being trapped on a metaphorical sidewalk square within an endless Metropolis. It is in this spirit I ask why, given the enormity of our universe, fundamentalist Christians think god crafted the cosmos for us.
6. Our universe is incredibly old. The best scientific estimates indicate that our universe is 13.7 billion years old. Allow me to quote Victor J. Stenger, emeritus professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Hawaii and adjunct professor of philosophy at the University of Colorado: Referencing the deity, he says, “Instead of six days, he took nine billion years to make Earth, another billion years or so to make life and then another four billion years to make humanity. Humans have walked on Earth for less than one-hundredth of one percent of Earth’s history.” This being the case, why should humans conclude everything was made for us? Let me put a finer point on this: Why would a god, who created a vast cosmos of 50,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 planets, which has existed for nearly 14 billion years, care about what human primates do while naked?
7. Homo sapiens sapiens have existed for tens of thousands of years, or more. The earliest inklings of the Abrahamic monotheism came several millennia ago—probably about four thousand years. Bearing this in mind, why did god wait tens of thousands of years to introduce hominids to the One True Religion? Certainly, if the fundamentalist Christian ideology is sound, hominids that lived 25,000 years ago would have benefited from knowing about Yahweh and his preferred behavioral patterns. Lacking god’s revelation, these primitives surely descended into all manner of silly superstitions and false belief systems. If humans truly are god’s children and everything was created for us, why wait until 2000 BCE to roll out the correct religion?
The road to truth is paved with evidence.