Image by ajschu via FlickrChristian, your faith is not really in god and Jesus. Your faith is really in those men who wrote those ancient texts that now comprise the Bible. Now I’m not going to ask you to believe anything without providing evidence; I wouldn’t insult your intelligence that way. But let me show you the other side of this “faith” coin.
Let me repeat my thesis; your faith is really in those men who wrote those ancient texts. This is a very important point which, I’ll wager, you have never seriously analyzed. As you well know, you learned about god and Jesus from another human who told you about them. God and Jesus did not just appear to you. Someone told you about them, and you may have learned more by reading about them in the Bible and other books. This is what our courts call hearsay evidence, which can be defined as “evidence based not on a witness' personal knowledge but on another's statement.” It’s all about what other people have said or written. There’s nothing out in the world that we can all see together or test with instruments and come to the same conclusions about (this is why there have been so many gods claimed to exist). It is vitally important that you recognize that all anyone today really “knows” about god or Jesus is based on what was written by primitive people that you never met and know almost nothing about.
Neither god nor Jesus has ever shown himself to you directly in an unambiguous way. You may have had feelings, but feelings are just emotions and the only thing emotions can prove is that you’re human. When the Muslim says he has felt the presence of Mohamed, are you convinced? Couldn’t it just be a shot of adrenaline in his brain that caused his skin to tingle and the hairs on his neck to rise? Couldn’t that explain your feelings just as well? Could the Muslim suicide bomber blow himself up if he didn’t have convincing feelings? Yet, you know for certain that the Muslim is wrong about Allah and Mohamed.
You may argue that you have a “relationship” with Jesus. But how does one have a relationship with a being who has never acknowledged your existence? Have you actually seen him? Has he talked to you or left you a phone message? Is that really a relationship? Isn’t that pretty much the same kind of “relationship” I had with Marilyn Monroe when I was a teenage boy?
All you have learned about god and Jesus comes directly or indirectly from the Bible. Now how do you know these Biblical authors were telling the truth? How could you? They wrote about things that supposedly happened thousands of years ago; things that left little or no archaeological evidence, no confirmation by unbiased contemporary historians, and there are no photos, film, or DNA. And don’t just read apologist literature to prove I’m wrong here, read the other side too. You must know that the apologists only see what they want to see and ignore the rest.
And what do you really know about these Bible writers and the quality of their testimony? Can you be sure that they weren’t just drunk or eating mushrooms, or schizophrenic, prone to epileptic visions, delusional, or simply con men seeking power and influence? Do you really know for sure? How could you?
Yes, I’ve heard the story that Jesus’ disciples were willing to die for him, so that proves he was the real thing. This is really a silly argument. Jim Jones’ followers in Guyana were so convinced he was a genuine prophet that they drank the Kool-Aid. Does this make him a prophet? History is full of examples of people willing to die for things that weren’t true.
You are perfectly aware that these authors wrote some incredibly unlikely stories about things that you wouldn’t believe if you read about them in any other book. You would not believe that knowledge of good and evil could reside in a piece of fruit if you read it in any other book. And if you think those stories weren’t meant to be taken literally, then how do you know that for sure? The Bible itself never provides a clue except on those few occasions when Jesus announces he’s going to discuss a parable. And if those other wild Bible stories are just metaphors, then how can you be sure that the Resurrection was not also meant metaphorically – or heaven and hell, for that matter? Was Jesus just a metaphor? And what about god?
Obviously, everybody will draw the fact-fiction lines in different places if the Bible is full of metaphor. How could a god actually teach the facts, the truth that way? Isn’t that why there are so many different Christian sects, because everyone makes his own determination of what’s real and what’s metaphor, and what’s important and what’s not? Why would a god leave so much up for interpretation about stuff that’s vitally important, even life and death important? Wouldn’t that be rather careless for a god? Doesn’t all this suggest pretty strongly that men wrote this stuff all on their own? Wouldn’t a real god have done a much better, much clearer job of it?
If you take the Bible stories literally, then how do you hold down the doubts? Those writers wrote about talking animals and magical fruit trees and food falling from the sky and dragons and unicorns and 900 year-old men. How can you read of such things and not have serious doubts about the accuracy of those authors? Why do we never see any of these amazing things today? Did the world used to be full of magic and now it’s not? If god used these awesome signs to convince people in those ancient times, then why does he expect us to just take these writers at their word for them? If god thought he needed to show those primitive people signs, then wouldn’t it be pretty unfair of him to expect us much better educated, more skeptical people to just believe without any signs?
And surely you know that some of the things they wrote have been proven to be scientifically wrong or impossible. For example, they wrote that the world is flat (Daniel 4:10-11), but we now have pictures that prove it’s a sphere. They wrote that the earth is fixed, didn’t move (1 Chronicles 16:30), but we now know the earth moves very fast as it orbits the sun. The Bible authors wrote that all those tiny points of light called stars would someday fall to the earth, but they’re billions of objects which are all vastly bigger than the earth. They wrote that disease is caused by demons. We have since proven that disease is caused by microorganisms, congenital defects, or toxic chemicals. They wrote, “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree (22 Matthew 13:31-32).” We now know many other plant’s seeds, such as orchids, are smaller, and shrubs do not grow into trees. They also wrote about 4-legged fowl (there never were any) and rusting gold and silver (they don’t rust – never have).
These writers were obviously very ignorant about how the world really works. Isn’t it likely that they made stuff up to fill the gaps in their knowledge? In fact, haven’t we just proven that they did so, given their theories of the flat, immovable earth, tiny stars, 4-legged birds, etc.?
Of course, the Bible says you just have to have faith. But, if someone says to you, “Just take my word for it,” aren’t you suspicious? Shouldn’t you be? Doesn’t that suggest pretty strongly that he can’t make a very good case for whatever he’s selling? Don’t you suspect that he might be hiding something? This is the same tactic used to fill the mosques and Hindu places of worship, you know; people are told, “You just have to have faith.” Does it really make sense to you that a god created human intelligence and curiosity, but wants you to just shut it off when it comes to religion?
Everything that has been said or written about god or Jesus in the past 2,000 years and more is based on the writings of these ancient, unknown primitives. EVERYTHING! You see, your faith ultimately depends on these writers, one-hundred percent. Your faith is not really in god and Jesus, your faith is in these anonymous scribes and the hope that they were telling you the facts, the real truth about things. If they were wrong, then so are you. How can you have so much faith in people you never knew, people who may have been utterly whacko or devious, people who have, in fact, been proven to be wrong about so much? That is a faith with a pretty shaky foundation, isn’t it? What did those writers do to deserve such trust from you? Shouldn’t you think about this some more?