I imagine if I asked most Christians if they were primarily rational or emotional when it came to their faith, most would say rational — they would be wrong. Let me prove it.
Discussing faith with someone who is religious is akin to playing chess with someone who secretly believes their “king” is magic but doesn’t tell you until they are put in checkmate.
Many conversations with Christians, especially conservative or evangelical, begin with both sides subscribing to the same rules of logic and objectivity until the topic of God and the supernatural, i.e., miracles, comes up. Then things change.
Forget about proving or disproving the existence of God. Ultimately, that is a stalemate discussion no matter how scientific the debate gets. We can reduce God to the smallest of probability but we cannot definitively claim he does not exist, at least not yet. Even the most diehard atheist, if he or she is intellectually honest with themselves, must concede the case is not closed. Here is what is still open for debate.
Does the God of the Bible exist?
We who are rational driven creatures must begin to focus our attention of a vigorous critique of the biblical text not the metaphysical concept of God. I have maintained, I continue to entertain the possibility of a greater being or force especially in my heart. However, I categorically deny the existence of the God portrayed by the biblical writers. The God of the Bible does not exist as defined.
It is much easier to analyze the Bible than the most remote corners of the universe. It is here within the text God is said to reside. It is here then where we must begin our investigation.
When backed into a rational corner, every Christian who at the very least believes in the resurrection of Jesus must admit to being irrational. There is no middle ground of non rational in which to take shelter. The biblical text upon which this belief rests is full of contradiction and implausibility from which there is no escape. One cannot defer to the mystery argument when facts and logic collide with faith. Nobody would suggest God is an irrational being.
It is my contention the easiest road to dethroning the Christian God is exposing the many glaring inconsistencies, incongruences and contradictions found throughout the Bible. Yet the fact remains, a scant few actually understand the Bible as it should be understood. It is religious propaganda with little historical value.
The so-called, “history of Israel” found in the non prophetic works has been revised to reflect a specific and narrow religious perspective of the Yahwist community living centuries after the events they record. The prophetic writings are the product a those deeply entrenched within the cult of Yahweh. They were religious fanatics and would consider only Yahweh worthy of worship as one would expect. This is also true for the priests of the cultus of Yahweh who have contributed to these writings. The singular goal of all these writers was to extol Yahweh.
The New Testament writers had a similar purpose except some espoused a strictly Judaistic version of Christianity (Jesus’ disciples) while Paul advocated his own version outside Judaism and the Law for Gentile believers.
Biblical content should never be sanitized to protect the sensibilities of its adherents. It is a book full of the most egregious acts one could commit on their fellow man, woman and children. Genocide was the goal of those who sought to take control of Canaan from its residents. The brutal killing of innocent men, women, children and babies was justified in the name of Yahweh. Slavery was a common practice as was the subjugation of women and polygamy. Sectarianism and tribalism were encouraged as a means of survival and for the betterment of community.
For those willing to invest considerable time and training in understanding these ancient texts, the evidence is there. Dogmatically asserting the Bible is something it is not without having thoroughly and honestly evaluated the necessary data is intellectual irresponsible. How can one claim to be so certain the Bible is the inerrant and divinely inspired Word of God without having formally studied it? One cannot perform open heart surgery on a patient because they “feel” they are qualified.
One of the great and startling tragedies of American evangelicalism is every believer thinks they are a theologian because God can “speak” to them personally. Churches are littered with those claiming to have heard the voice of God or been led by his spirit. Direct revelation has replaced the need for formal theological education.
The Bible is a perfectly imperfect book. It contains exactly what one would expect it should if written by finite fallible men. Every page testifies to ancient concepts of morality and ethics. We should accept these limitations and use them as incentives to build a better model based on current understandings of science, culture and people devoid of bigotry and prejudice.
Choosing whether to believe Jesus rose from the dead or not is not just a matter of opinion. It is the difference between an informed opinion and a misinformed or uniformed opinion. It boils down to whether one has availed themselves of all available information and then made a decision based on this knowledge.
Facts and logic will inexorably lead one away from belief in the Bible as God’s word. Many are afraid to consider this for fear of losing their eternal hope of heaven. The irrationality of this position should be obvious. Instead, those who take shelter in the cave of ignorance are quick to dismiss these findings as anti-god. They see their own refusal to embrace the evidence as a badge of honor and a mark of godly commitment.
Such delusion pervades much of American evangelicalism and leads to the intellectual crippling of each new generation of evangelicals. Being raised in these “Christian homes” subjects children to a steady diet of indoctrination and socialization. Many children suffer ideological impregnation from their parents which can have significant psychological effects as they grow older.
Over many decades I have read thousands of articles related to evangelicalism from around the world. By far the most disturbing reoccurring theme is suicide among those raised in an austere evangelical environment who are ostracized and demonized for choosing “another path.” Unable to rid themselves of the guilt and shame place upon them by their Bible believing parents, some resort to taking their own life. Others remain in the faith because they too cannot break free from these emotional shackles which keep them.
I close with this challenge. If groups like evangelicals could present a cogent and reasonable defense of their faith that does not rely on appeals to experientialism as “evidence” of truth nor discounts science and rationalism as tools of Satan and a depraved sin nature, I would have no objections. But they cannot. Evangelical Christians will always hide behind the wall of faith which is built solely with bricks of fantastical thinking. Using the Bible as their source, they will devise whimsical arguments which satisfy the close minded and faith addled.
Evangelicalism satisfies the heart but leaves the head empty. As long as we continue to indulge those who maintain confidence in a collection of ancient writings steeped in superstition, society as a whole will be slowed in social and environmental progress like a ship dragging an anchor.
Being an evangelical Christian means not having to know the truth nor wanting to because they believe they already have it. It is an excuse for intellectual apathy.