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This is the 4th post in the series, 6 reasons to disbelieve in God?. (It seemed only fair after posting on 12 reasons to believe in God.)
So far I’ve looked at the problem of evil and suffering, Is God hiding or just not there? and God vs science.
In this post I consider the feeling many people have that christian belief is just too weird to be true.
So many strange things
- Why would an all-powerful God even bother with humans?
- The requirements of christian conversion are a very strange process to get to heaven.
- How can Jesus dying by crucifixion be necessary for us to go to heaven?
- Why would God require people to pray? Surely he knows what we want already!?
- Faith is believing without evidence. Why would God require that?
- How could Jesus possibly be divine and human at the same time? Surely he must be one or the other?
- Why would God create a whole universe, and later destroy it again?
These, and many other aspects of christian belief, are just plain weird, it is said. Many people find it hard to believe in a religion that is contrary to human logic.
This strangeness is hard to deny. So what can a christian say in response?
Weirdness isn’t an argument
It is easy to feel that these things are strange. But it is harder to construct a decent argument from them.
An argument requires that known facts are contrary to some aspect of faith.
- The argument from evil and suffering is an example. We know suffering occurs and we can reasonably argue that a loving God would avoid creating a world where these is so much suffering.
- Likewise the Cosmological argument is built on the known fact that all events we have ever observed have some cause. So we can reasonably ask what caused the universe.
But in the list above, it is hard to see where known facts clearly contradict christian belief. Our knowledge of God’s purposes and reasons isn’t all that comprehensive, so it is hard to say he shouldn’t do any of these strange things.
Truth is indeed often stranger than fiction
The obvious example is quantum physics, which defies logic in many ways. For example, quantum entanglement, where particles enormous distances apart can nevertheless influence each other. Einstein found it so surprising he dubbed it “spooky action at a distance”. But it happens.
There are many other strangenesses in the real world.
- The process of sexual reproduction doesn’t seem to be the most obvious or efficient way to create a new life (though it may be the most enjoyable!).
- The dual nature of light as both a particle and a wave is as unexpected as the dual nature of Jesus as divine and human, but it is known to be true.
- Some animals seem very bizarre – the platypus, the pink fairy armadillo, the purple or pig-nosed frog, the nudibranch or blue dragon, the axolotl and the dugong, to name a few. (For many more, see Bizarre Animals You Never Knew Existed and 22 Strange Animals You Probably Didn’t Know Exist.)
So there is good reason to avoid being dogmatic about what is or isn’t too unusual to be real!
So how do I explain ….. ?
Why would an all-powerful God even bother with humans?
Human being have children and raise them to be independent adults. They make sacrifices to do it. People like to have pets, and care for them. Why should God be any different?
The requirements of christian conversion are a very strange process to get to heaven.
The requirements of some churches can certainly be awkward or bizarre. But Jesus said we must love God and love our neighbour. That seems quite reasonable to me
How can Jesus dying by crucifixion be necessary for us to go to heaven?
You’ve got me there. I can’t see why either. But Jesus seemed to teach that it was necessary, so I accept it just as I accept some of the unusual findings of science, even though I can’t understand them.
Why would God require people to pray? Surely he knows what we want already!?
God gives us the dignity of autonomy. But autonomy means we are free to choose whether we want God’s help or not. He doesn’t generally force himself on us, but waits to be asked.
Faith is believing without evidence. Why would God require that?
That isn’t how christians define faith. For us, faith is trust. We think there is sufficient evidence to justify that trust.
How could Jesus possibly be divine and human at the same time? Surely he must be one or the other?
It is possible to be two things at the same time. A piece of cardboard can be totally white and totally rectangular, because colour and shape are different things. If divinity and humanity are different types of things, then it isn’t necessarily crazy for Jesus to be both.
Why would God create a whole universe, and later destroy it again?
The Bible says that this universe won’t be so much destroyed as re-created. It is good, and there will one day be a new universe.
Strange but true?
The christian faith certainly includes some unusual and strange teachings. I wouldn’t expect anything else from the God who made the universe, and who is beyond my comprehension.
But I can’t see how that observation makes it any less reasonable to believe in God.
I just don’t see any argument there.
But I can certainly feel the emotional doubt sometimes.
The Bible: impossible to take seriously?