Guest post: “Why I never have doubts about leaving Christianity”
Blogger’s Note: This scholarly dismantling of Christian doctrine is one of the clearest and most compelling that I have read. It had already been published on May 14 on the blog “Recovering from Religion”. I think it’s really worth sharing.
By Miklos Jako
I have spoken to ex-Christians who say that every now and then they have residual doubts about leaving Christianity. Myself, I never had such doubts about leaving Christianity and here is why, first in general, then specifically.
I have made my decision step by step, diligently, over the decades. I proceeded with humility, with an open mind, reading, reflecting and ruminating on each problem.
After making a decision, I wanted to make sure. Of course, I had no shortage of an esoteric idea or attitude that could still give meaning to Christianity. I embarked on a mission to informally discuss savvy Christians of all stripes. I have spoken with hundreds of them, including some of the best Christian apologists. I sat with William Lane Craig (the best Christian apologist, in my opinion) for an hour and a half. With Hugh Ross (a legitimate astrophysicist) for two hours. With Hank Hanegraaff (“The Bible Answer Man”) for six hours over two days. With Catholic philosopher Peter Kreeft (often called today’s CS Lewis) for twelve hours over several weeks. And these men, all extremely bright and knowledgeable, had no right answers. I concluded that I was right.
Specifically, here are what I think are the top ten arguments against Christianity. The Christian response is in italics, followed by my rebuttal to their response.
- A God without love – The God of the Old Testament is deeply wicked. He needlessly drowns millions of animals in the story of the Flood, without a single iota of compassion expressed (Gen 7: 4).
It’s just a story, a warning.
There is no such thing as “just a story”. Stories reveal mentalities. Perhaps you can worship such a callous and cruel God; I can not.
- Male chauvinism – The Christian God is macho. The early Corinthians say that “the head of every man is Christ… the head of the woman… is the man. (1 Cor 11: 3)
True, there is male chauvinism in the Bible, but it reflects the culture of the time, not the actual values of the biblical God. The Bible is very clear that God created men and women equally “in his own image” in Genesis 1:27.
“In his image” is not the same as “equal in value and rights”. This passage from Genesis is just empty rhetoric, contradicted by the more specific passage of the First Corinthians. And also contradicted by Genesis 2:18, which specifically refers to Eve as a “helper” of Adam. If gender equality is God’s intention, then why is subordination specifically approved in these passages? What a great opportunity to clearly establish equality, a failure.
- False prophecies – The prophecies of the Bible are false. Jesus could not be the Messiah born in Bethlehem, because this Messiah was supposed to be a… MILITARY leader (Jn 7:42, Mic 5: 2-6).
Well, Christians sometimes make too much of certain prophecies.
This is not to overdo certain prophecies. It is a matter of fundamental dishonesty, to pretend that the predictions miraculously come true when they are not. New Testament writers extract the Old Testament and choose items from a passage that match but ignore items that do not. Deliberately established correlations do not equal miraculously realized predictions.
- Science – The biblical God does not even know the nature of his own creation. The earth is NOT set on pillars (1 Sam 2: 8). Ostriches are NOT indifferent parents (Job 39: 13-16). And a basin of given dimensions cannot hold twice as much water as it mathematically can hold (2 Chr 4: 2-5).
The Bible is not a scientific book; it is a book on spirituality.
Why would a rational human being think that a book with clumsy mistakes in science is somehow trustworthy in spiritual matters? You should take to heart one of Jesus’ good teachings: “… he who is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with a lot. (Lu 16:10)
- Homosexuality – The biblical God condemns homosexuals. It is pure human bigotry (Lev 20:13).
If God is what he says he is, it is his prerogative to establish a sexual ethic.
This discrimination by your God is yet another proof that He is false. Anyone with insight can see that sexual orientation has nothing to do with people’s morals, and neither does being left-handed.
- Theology – Basic Christian theology is immoral at the deepest level. A man cannot take responsibility for the sins of other men (Rom 5:19, Heb 9:28); we are all responsible for our OWN behavior. And true BELIEF (Mk 16:16) is not the primary virtue. Good BEHAVIOR is.
Well, unlike fundamentalists, I don’t see Jesus’ death on the cross as his death for our sins, as some sort of correction on a cosmic toll. I consider his sacrificial death as an affirmation of the brotherhood of man and the fatherhood of God.
Well, that’s a more rational assessment of the death of Jesus. But, regarding belief, you still have a necessary dichotomy; you still have to make a choice as to what is more important, belief or behavior. The thief on the cross goes to heaven because of his easy faith, but the good atheist of all time goes to hell. It’s your theology, and it’s unfair. It denotes a selfish God of power, not a God of love and justice.
- Jesus – Jesus was certainly courageous and impactful. But he does not qualify as the proposed Son of God, or even a wise man.
But even if he is not accepted as the Son of God, Jesus is universally regarded as a transcendentally wise man!
It’s because people have been culturally brainwashed into thinking so. But if you look at him objectively, he wasn’t that. Rather, he was a religious extremist, who constantly exaggerated for the sake of impact, to the detriment of the truth. Throughout history mankind has been inclined to lap up the exaggerations of charismatic mystics.
To claim that you can move a literal mountain (Mt 21:21), or walk on water (Mt 14:31), by righteous faith, is extreme. Threatening eternal condemnation for disbelief in him is extremist (Jn 3:18). Labeling adulterous remarriage is extremist (Mk 10:11). Praising self-castration for the kingdom of God is extremist (Mt 19,12). Counseling to forgive a person 490 times is extremist (Mt 18:22). To claim that the world is about to end in his lifetime is extremist (Mt 24:34).
Jesus accepted the barbaric God of the Old Testament as his God. Jesus taught the concept of hell. Such a man is a religious extremist, not a beacon of morality, although, admittedly, he does serve it because people focus on his good teachings and ignore his bad ones.
- Contradictions – A valid holy book would not contradict itself, as the Bible constantly does.
But if you take a closer look at any alleged contradictions, you will find that there are resolutions. And even if there is no good resolution, all of this would mean that the doctrine of biblical inerrancy is not true, NOT that Jesus was not who he claimed to be.
I know that you Christians have an endless supply of “could have been” scenarios to “resolve” contradictions. But the fact that there are so many, so many of them that need to be “resolved”, is not a good sign. I think David, committing one sin all his life, while committing another sin, is an absolute contradiction, without resolution (1 Ki 15: 5 ≠ 2 Sam 24:10). One is not equal to two. Seven does not equal five either (1 Chr 3: 19-20).
You might have a case if the biblical contradictions were just minor factual issues, like Jesus claiming that the mustard seed is the smallest of all seeds, when technically it is not. Or, the resurrection accounts don’t match the details. But, you have no case when we look at the moral contradictions.
The biblical God regards David as “a man after my heart” (Acts 13:22), yet he was a murderer, killing a man to have his wife. Not to mention his practice of mutilating the corpses of his enemies (2 Sam 4:12, 1 Sam 17:51). He is not a man after the heart of a God worthy of worship.
- Immoralities – A book filled with immoralities ruled by God cannot be a valid book. The biblical God orders genocides (Ezk 9: 5-6), forbids disabled people to approach the altar (Lev 21: 17-23), sees nothing wrong with being happy to crush babies from the enemy against a rock (Ps 137: 9), commands you to stone to death friends and family who leave religion (Dt 13: 6-10), and has no problem with slavery, referring to human beings as… “property” (Lev 25: 44-46)!
Slavery in the Bible was not like the slavery we know in the history of our own country. Biblical slavery was essentially indentured servitude.
This is simply not true. Non-Hebrew slaves are called “property” and “permanent slaves” (Lev 25:46). You were allowed to beat them (Ex 21:21). And the master, not the slave, owned the children of the slaves (Ex 21: 4). It is slavery; it is not a “contract easement”. Jesus himself had no problem with slavery (Lu 12:47, Jn 13:16, Lu 17: 7-10).
- Hell – The concept of Hell is obscenely cruel, unjust and unloving.
God does not send us to hell. It is our own free will. We are sending ourselves to Hell.
Free will is not the problem. The cruelty of the punishment is involved. And to inflict endless and severe torture (Rev 14:11), is a violation of the very essence of love. True, there are also passages that support the idea of hell as annihilation rather than eternal conscious torment, but if there is a true God, I have no doubt that he is appalled by it. extremist interpretation of hell as endless torture.
So, for these reasons, my fellow ex-Christians, I have no doubts about leaving Christianity. And neither can you. As Judge Judy put it, “If that doesn’t make sense, then it doesn’t.
ABOUT MIKLOS JAKO
Miklos Jako is a retired social worker who posts his encounters with believers on YouTube. An ex-Christian, he has extensive experience debating believers. You can read more about the author here.
“Erudite but readable … very enlightening”
– Richard Dawkins, author of “The God Delusion”, to the glory of “Holy Smoke”
Buy either book on Amazon, here (paperback or ebook editions)