For many years there were things about Christianity that did not make sense to me. What bothered me most was that it all seemed to make perfect sense to so many other people. What was I missing and why am I still missing it to this day? What is wrong with me? The more I researched the Bible in search for answers, the more the questions became. I invite Christians to explain to me how they experience the following. Please don’t turn this article into a mud-slinging contest. Let us keep it civilized and sensible. I would really appreciate your honest input.
I will limit this article to a few of the more serious questions I have:
Why are people religious?
Have you as a religious person ever asked yourself why you are a Christian? Why have you chosen Christianity over Judaism, Hinduism or Islam? Have you even bothered to give any of the other religions a chance? Or are you a Christian simply because your parents are/were Christians and you grew up in a Christian community and as a result were only exposed to Christianity? My guess is that it is the latter. Christians believe in their religion for the same reason that Jews, Muslims, Hindus, etc believe in theirs. It is the only/primary religion that they have been exposed to for all their lives. How can Christians then believe that they, and they alone, are right and everybody else is wrong?
A Faith Divided?
We are told that the Christian Church is our only gateway to immortality. The Christian Church, and only the Christian Church, preaches the Truth. No other religion can get you into Heaven. This, however, also raises some serious questions. There are somewhere between 35 000 and 42 000 denominations of the Christian Church (Google is your friend!), each proclaiming to preach the Truth. This implies that there are approximately 40 000 ‘Truths’ out there to choose from. Can you imagine any organisation more divided than the Christian Church? How can any Christian possibly know which denomination is the right one? Or does it not matter?
A Cruel God?
Let us assume for a moment that Christianity is the right religion and that only Christians will go to Heaven. What does this make of God? We are told that God is a loving and caring God. How can a loving and caring God allow babies to be born in non-Christian countries where they have absolutely no chance of becoming a Christian? Is this loving and caring God condemning these people even before they are born? Or are they getting punished for the sins of their parents? And, if so, how loving and caring is that?
What about before Christianity came along? For many thousands of years the main cause of death was infection caused by tooth decay. I can hardly imagine dying a more horrible and agonising death! Why did God allow that to happen? Why did He take so long to intervene?
The Power of Prayer?
God in his infinite wisdom takes a decision that for whatever reason something bad will happen to you. You will lose your job, contract an incurable disease, or whatever. Surely God gave this very thorough consideration. It was not an impulsive decision that was made in the spur of the moment. You, as a Christian, then do what you believe to be the right thing and pray to God, asking Him to make the problem go away. Are you not asking this omnipotent, omniscient being that never makes mistakes or take wrong decisions to change his mind? Why would He? What are the chances of your prayers succeeding?
Even worse, in hard times it is very likely that a fellow Christian will come to you and offer to pray for you. Why? Does he believe that he has more clout with God and that God will rather listen to his prayer than yours?
The same goes for faith healing. Let us assume that God punishes me with cancer. I pray, but nothing happens, because God had his reasons for bringing this over me. But all is not lost. I can go to a person who calls himself a faith healer. He considers himself to be in God’s good books and therefore believes that he can convince God to change his mind. He prays and lays his hands on me and voila! I’m cured! Does this not imply that God did not really want to heal me, but eventually did so mainly as a favour to his pal, the faith healer? If not, then please enlighten me.
A few years ago, in a Karoo town, a young mother went jogging along a deserted road. She got attacked, raped and killed. The perpetrator was arrested and during the court proceedings told the court in graphic detail how she prayed and told him how God would punish him for what he was doing to her. The community was very touched by her faith till the very end. Obviously I am missing something here, but I see only two possibilities. a) God in his infinite wisdom saw what was happening to her, ignored her prayers because he approved of what the man was doing to her and chose not to intervene, or b) There was no-one out there listening to her prayers.
What use could an omniscient, omnipotent God possibly have for the sorry bunch of people on this earth? (of course I include myself) What purpose are the chosen ones going to serve? Surely they are not going lie around idly on pastures green, eating apples while listening to harp music all day every day for an eternity? I can hardly imagine a more boring place, should the latter be the case. Surely there must be more to it.
God seems to be in need of good, righteous people to serve some or other purpose in his Kingdom. This again raises some questions, for example:
a) Why would an omnipotent, omniscient God need anything/anyone for any purpose? There is nothing that he cannot effortlessly accomplish on his own. What purpose could even the righteous serve in his Kingdom?
b) Why would an omnipotent God create flawed beings that he can put to the tests and select only the best to serve in his Kingdom if he could simply make people according to his required standards to serve the purpose that he intends for them? For the life of me I cannot think of a single reason. Can you imagine the amount of suffering on this earth that would be spared? No more evil, pain, innocent babies dying horrible, painful deaths, hunger, etc. God will not have to listen to zillions of prayers, many of them totally selfish and ridiculous, like people praying to win the lotto, etc.
I am not taking a swipe at Christianity. I seriously want to know what I am missing here and why.