I saw a couple of facebook links from a sister of mine to some dude with a blog that had posted 40 questions for Christians. This obviously meant something to her, so I wanted to respond at some level. This particular list is not as impressive as it may sound. There are really about 5 questions that are asked in different ways. These questions seem to be more focused on main-stream Christianity. And in my highly biased opinion, Mormonism provides better answers.
So, I know this is long (although my answers are very brief), but it is something that can be easily skimmed through. I hope some of these simple answers are meaningful to someone. – especially the sister.
1. If a hundred different religions have to be wrong for yours to be right, does this show that people from all over the world like to invent gods that don’t exist?
I believe the way I do because I have had spiritual experiences and communications that seem genuine and authentic. I cannot speak to the religious experiences of others. But generally speaking, there likely have been ‘gods’ that have been invented.
2. If your parents had belonged to a different religion, do you think you would belong to that religion too?
I would almost certainly start out as a member of my parents’ religion. Staying would be another matter. If I had not had the religious experiences I have had, I would possibly not be ‘active’ in my current religion. I suspect it would be the same for other religions.
3. If people from the five major religions are each told conflicting information by their respective gods, should any of them be believed?
Only if you feel you have had genuine and authentic spiritual experiences regarding the information.
Communication with God
4. How can you tell the voice of God from a voice in your head?
For me the experiences I have had seem unique and genuine. Unlike any other experiences.
5. How can you tell the voice of God from the voice of the Devil?
Same as 4, except that the experiences tend to ring both true and good.
6. Would you find it easier to kill someone if you believed God supported you in the act?
Yes. But this is highly unlikely.
7. If God told you to kill an atheist, would you?
I would have to buy the explanation. Again, highly unlikely,
8. When an atheist is kind and charitable out of the kindness of his heart, is his behavior more or less commendable than a religious man who does it because God instructed him to?
About the same. Religious people are not kind and charitable ‘only’ because God tell them to be.
9. If you are against the Crusades and the Inquisition, would you have been burned alive as a heretic during those events?
I don’t know. Maybe. But from my perspective these were not really my people. They were apostates.
10. If your interpretation of a holy book causes you to condemn your ancestors for having a different interpretation, will your descendants condemn you in the same way?
Maybe. If I am guessing the point here, the reason I use the books I do is again my religious experience. I can only assume that sincere truth seekers, whether ancestors or descendants, will have similar interpretations as mine.
11. Rape wasn’t always a crime in the Middle East two thousand years ago. Is that why `do not rape’ is not part of the Ten Commandments?
What is a crime and what are commandments do not necessarily go together. Generally speaking Mormonism teaches that sexual relations outside of a marriage are against the will of God.
12. Do lions need a `god-given’ morality to understand how to care for their young, co-operate within a prides, or feel anguish at the loss of a companion? If not, why do we?
I am not sure what God gives to animals. And I am sure that non-believers have emotions and morality whether they believe or not. But who is to say where some of our sense of morality comes from? And certainly both believers and non-believers can feel these things.
13. If organized religion requires a civilization in which to spread, how could this civilization exist without first having a moral code to make us civil?
Same as most of 12.
The Characteristics of God
14. An all-knowing God can read your mind, so why does he require you to demonstrate your faith by worshiping him?
Mormons have a strong belief in free will. And not even God can violate this free will. At some level, the future is always open. Some of the creedal definitions of God are so absolute, that they bring up questions like this. Mormonism rejects many of the creedal definitions of God as absolutes.
15. If God is all-knowing, why do holy books describe him as surprised or angered by the actions of humans? He should have known what was going to happen.
Again, I reject many of the absolute definitions of God which come from creedal Christianity. If mankind is free, the future must be open, and not absolutely known or knowable, even for God. Thus even God can weep.
16. An all-knowing God knows who will ultimately reject him. Why does God create people who he knows will end up in hell?
Mostly the same as above.
17. If God is all knowing, then why did he make humans in the knowledge that he’d eventually have to send Jesus to his death?
Again, mostly the same as above. I did a post based on some BH Roberts stuff on vicarious atonement here.
18. Why did a supposedly omnipotent god take six days to create the universe, and why did he require rest on the seventh day?
We do not know all the details of creation. Again, this question has its basis on absolute definitions of God, which will always bring up this sort of question. The creation stories are obviously greatly simplified.
19. Is omnipotence necessary to create our universe when a larger, denser universe would have required more power?
This again goes back to absolute definitions. Absolute definitions lead to this type of question. God’s creations are a work in process. I prefer to think of God as having sufficient power to meet His objectives rather than absolutely all powerful.
20. Why are Churches filled with riches when Jesus asked his followers to give their wealth away?
Churches, like every other organization, must take in more than they spend. Except the government…Thus many of their decisions will be financially conservative. The faithfulness and generosity of the membership is where this wealth comes from. If the church were in financial trouble they would be criticized for that. They cannot win. The church does a lot with disaster relief and charitable contributions. I would rather have the church be in good shape financially.
21. While in the desert, Jesus rejected the temptations of the Devil. He didn’t censor or kill the Devil, so why are Christians so in favor of censoring many Earthly temptations?
Sometimes this is misguided. It comes from a desire to help other people avoid the consequences of these temptations. Sometimes these efforts may go to far, but it is based on what they feel is in the best interest of society.
22. Given that the story of Noah’s Ark was copied almost word for word from the much older Sumerian Epic of Atrahasis, does this mean that our true ruler is the supreme sky god, Anu?
Not necessarily. It could mean that there is some merit to the story.
23. If your desire is to convert atheists so that they become more like you; do you think that you’re currently better than them?
This is a comparison of apples to oranges. We can all improve from where we are. We think that they can be better than they currently are – as can we.
24. If religious people don’t respect their children’s right to pick their own religion at a time when they’re able to make that decision, how can society expect religious people to respect anyone’s right to freedom of religion?
All children will eventually grow up and decide to stay or go. Parents simply raise their own children the best they can. Of course parents let other people do whatever they please with their religious beliefs.
25. If missionaries from your religion should be sent to convert people in other countries, should missionaries from other religions be sent to your country?
Other religions can do whatever they want for their missionary efforts.
26. If children are likely to believe in Santa Claus and fairies, does this explain why religion has been taught in schools for thousands of years?
Religion generally offers many more values than fairies. Schools will often reflect local culture including religion.
27. When preachers and prophets claim to be special messengers of God, they often receive special benefits from their followers. Does this ever cause you to doubt their intentions?
Sure. Again, I believe as I do based on spiritual experience.
28. When you declare a miracle, does this mean you understand everything that is possible in nature?
Of course not. Why would anyone set such a standard?
29. If a woman was cured of cancer by means unknown to us, and everyone declared it a miracle, would the chance of scientifically replicating this cure be more or less likely?
Probably about the same.
30. If humans declared fire to be a miracle thousands of years ago, would we still be huddling together in caves while we wait for God to fire another lightning bolt into the forest?
No. This question attempts to force an all or nothing stance.
31. If God gave a man cancer, and the Devil cured him to subvert God’s plan, how would you know it wasn’t a divine miracle? What if he was an unkind, atheist, homosexual?
Only spiritual experience or communication could know that. It should make no difference what the individual is like.
32. Should an instruction to convert to your religion upon the threat of eternal torture in hell be met with anything other than hostility?
Hostility is rarely a good reaction to anything. Mormonism rejects such an all-or-nothing afterlife.
33. Can a mass murderer go to heaven for accepting your religion, while a kind doctor goes to hell for not?
Again, Mormonism rejects an all-or-nothing afterlife. God will judge each individual. I do not believe it is a pass/fail grade.
34. Did the mass murdering Crusaders and Inquisitors make it into the Christian heaven?
I doubt it, but do not know what the result of their judgment will be.
35. How can we know what is right when we don’t know for sure who makes it into heaven and hell?
We usually have a good sense of right and wrong. Spiritual experience and communication is the only way to know religious truth.
36. If aliens exist on several worlds that have never heard of your god, will they all be going to hell when they die?
I believe that these aliens will hear of my God, or likely have already. They will be judged by God just as I will.
The Promises of Religion
37. If someone promised you eternal life, the protection of a loving super being, a feeling of moral righteousness, a purpose for living, answers to all the big questions, and a rule book for achieving the pinnacle of human potential… and all in exchange for having faith in something that wasn’t proven, would you be suspicious?
Yes. The only reason to believe such a thing is if you have genuine spiritual experience regarding such a claim.
38. If someone promised to give you a billion dollars after ten years, but only if you worshiped them until that time, would you believe them? If someone promised to give you eternal life upon death, but only if you spent your life worshiping a god, would you believe them?
Probably not. The only reason to believe such claims is religious experiences.
39. Why does religion appeal more to poor, weak, vulnerable, young, ill, depressed, and ostracized people? Could religious promises be more of a temptation to these people?
Such people are more likely to seek religion. Yes.
40. If you have eternal life in the afterlife, with all your family and friends, don’t you feel it would be like an eternal visit to your in-laws house? Don’t you think you’d get bored after 10,000 years?
Mormonism offers the best explanation of what an afterlife may entail. We will have sufficient time for whatever we pursue.