From: Brian Holtz []
Sent: Friday, October 19, 2001 1:37 PM
Subject: Christianity: arguments against; questions for
Hi J.P.,
in my book you'll find a summary refutation of Christianity:
Here are some questions for Christians and other theists.

1. If you believe that the evidence for your god is compelling, how do you explain that it is not accepted by so many otherwise reasonable people? Why do so many people claim that the evidence for some other (incompatible) god is compelling? What other thesis so important and compelling (e.g. heliocentrism, evolution) defied general consensus for this long? How can you be sure that problem lies with the non-believers, and not with your thesis?

2. If you believe that your holy book made non-trivial prophecies that were later fulfilled, how do you explain that professional historians deny any such prophecies were actually recorded before the predicted event?

3. If you believe that the evidence for your god is compelling, in how many years do you expect there will be a consensus for him as widespread as that supporting (say) heliocentrism? (Hint: your answer must include either a definite number of years or the word 'never'.)

4. In the past, your god was used to explain the "gaps" caused by the absence of a naturalistic understanding of physics, astronomy, meteorology, agriculture, and physiology. Most of these gaps began closing after 1500, but by 1850, there were still no naturalistic explanations for the origin and diversity of life, the mechanism of mind, and the origin of the universe itself. In 2000, compelling naturalistic explanations already exist for the diversity of life and the mechanism of mind, while outlines of naturalistic explanations are being formed for the origins of life and the universe itself. If by 2150 there exist naturalistic explanations in these four areas that are as widely accepted as (say) heliocentrism, what significant gaps in the universe's design will be left for your god to explain?  Would you abandon theism if the Argument From Design lost these last four major pillars?

5. What possible evidence would convert you to a different revelation-based religion, like Zoroastrianism or Sikhism?  What possible evidence would convert you to atheism? Is your theistic theory unfalsifiable?

6. What are heaven and hell like? During my "eternal damnation", will I be able to remember my mortal life as well as I can now?  Will I be able to remember new things that I think of while in hell?  Will I have access to writing materials or other means of recording my thoughts?  Will I be able to communicate with a) people in heaven, b) other people in hell, c) your devil(s), or d) your god(s)?  Will I be able to learn of events on earth and elsewhere as they happen after my death?  Will I be able to accurately keep time?

During your (presumed) "life everlasting", will you be able to do the things I asked about above?  If you are able to communicate with other citizens of heaven, will it only be if they agree to do so?  Can you truly consider it paradise if the celebrities there are snubbing you?  Can celebrities truly consider it paradise if they have to talk to anybody who comes over to their cloud?  If you are a remarried widower, will your two wives have to share you, or will one of them have less bliss than the other?  If you were an infant or child when you received life everlasting, do you get an adult's mind?  What if you were mentally disabled or senile?  Are some people in heaven still smarter than others?  Will you understand (or be able to learn) every principle of math and science?  Will you know (or be able to learn) every fact of the history of you, your loved ones, humanity, and the Earth in general?  Will you know Earth's future, or be able to observe it as it happens?  Will others in heaven know (or be able to learn) embarrassing things about your life?  Will you be able to remember any sinful pleasures of your mortal life?  Will your memory of your sins be wiped clean, or will you still have shame?  Will you be able to play games (like tennis) with other people in heaven?  Will you ever lose?  Will you ever get better?  Will you have hair, and be able to grow or cut your hair or change its style?  Will you be able to take naps, and if so for what duration? Will people ever have differing opinions, interests, or hobbies? Will there be any possible way to create new knowledge or new art?

If dead infants are adults in heaven, what determines their personality? If the soul begins at conception, won't so many mothers be surprised to have extra children waiting for them in heaven that died in very early miscarriages?

7. If,  when my first 100 trillion years of torment are over, you happen to remember that a basically good person is just beginning his torture essentially because he used his God-given gift of reason, will you think "right on! you and Hitler are getting what you deserved!"?  Or will you then even momentarily consider the possibility that your god is less than perfectly just?

8. What if God quit?  Imagine your god "saw how great man's wickedness on earth had become" [Gen 6:5] and decided to be rid of us. But instead of drowning us all in a Flood, imagine that your god simply abandoned us to the uncaring universe.  Imagine that he decided to leave us alone and unmolested, the way all the wicked atheists thought we were anyway.  Imagine too that he had firmly decided and announced that the few not-quite-so-wicked people like you had zero hope of salvation, and that upon men's natural bodily death he was going to uncreate their souls. What would you do? What would be your goals and values?
Knowledge is dangerous. Take a risk: