Some questions for the faithful: This post is a search for answers to questions that have long bothered me. This is a genuine quest for information. I’m interested in the views of everyone, but especially those who espouse a faith.
Assuming your deity is considered both omnipotent (supremely powerful in every imaginable way) and omniscient (knowing everything there is to know), and wondering why he/she/they/it merits worship if your god isn’t these things, I’d like your answers, please. Whether, and how, you answer is, of course entirely up to you. I’m curious about certain aspects of religion and would appreciate a wide range of views, which you can easily enter in the comments section below.
Some background about me, for your information. Raised in the Church of England Christian protestant tradition, I served time as a choir boy, attended Sunday school, and, for a short time, considered entering the priesthood. A tragedy in my mid-teens caused me to question that faith. As a result, I read a good deal of literature on religion, including the Bible and the Qur’an, both from cover to cover. Later in life, I became a Humanist and member of the Secular Society. So, you know my history. Here are my questions.
- Robust scientific exploration proves humanity has existed for at least 200,000 years, and probably much longer. I’m curious about when your god decided to make his/her/their presence known to humanity and why this point in history was chosen. And why were earlier humans completely denied the benefits promised by the knowledge of your god(s)? Also, why was the specific geographical location selected, since these frequently appear to have been places without the means to spread the words of the god in a manner that might be expected to reach the whole of mankind in a reasonable time.
2. Omniscience demands knowledge of everything and spans the past, present and future, so your god must know the consequences of all his/her/their actions and decisions before they’re taken. I wonder, therefore, why all sacred texts that include instructions for followers are open to interpretation, since such freedom of judgement inevitably leads to the divisions evident in all religious groups, frequently causing violence and destruction. Does such ‘freedom’ suggest your god is therefore cruel, indifferent to human suffering, or merely a megalomaniac who enjoys creating chaos?
3. Omnipotence requires the quality of being everywhere at all times, since, regardless of the degree of power, it’s not possible to control events which remain unknown. This means your god is present at all catastrophes, disasters, and tragedies, whether ‘natural’ or man-made. I’m interested in how, or if, you equate the obvious consequences of your god’s inaction in such circumstances to some divine quality and how you would define that characteristic. I also note it’s common for the faithful to praise their god for the good things that occur but that condemnation of the same god for the many bad events is rarely heard. I except, of course, the mercenary condemnation made by insurance companies in their definition of natural disasters as ‘Acts of God’. And I wonder why gods are praised in this way but not held responsible for the bad that occurs in the world they apparently created with full foreknowledge of the outcomes.
4. Most religions stem from ancient times, long before humanity understood the real reasons for natural events. It’s likely many traditions, customs and rites were created by confused and frightened people in the hope of preventing repetition of such events as earthquakes, volcanic activity, floods, droughts, epidemics, food poisoning, etc. Bearing that in mind, is it wise or even necessary to continue such beliefs long after we know how these events occur? A small example would be the prohibition of certain meats in some religions; these are obviously the result of folk knowledge that some foods caused sickness if allowed to remain available long after animals were killed for food, especially in warm climates. Now we can preserve such foods, why is it necessary to continue the prohibitions?
5. God, according to certain religious beliefs, created humanity in his/her/their own image. This belief raises several questions. Humanity, although a single species, has many different faces. Which of these is the image of your god? To create a species as a mirror image suggests a form of vanity on the part of the creator, but it also must be only a partial likeness, since gods are supposed to be perfect in every way, yet humanity suffers all manner of defects, illness, and deficiencies, even from birth. Also, many deities are of a specified gender, which, of course, suggests that chosen gender is considered superior to any other. Why would your god do this, and create an underclass of gender in the process? Is it not more likely your god was invented by humanity in the likeness of those creators?
6. Many stories, traditions, rites, and claims pertaining to gods involve suffering, pain, injustice, exclusivity, arbitrariness, bullying, and cruelty. Can you explain why a deity who created the world and everything in it, and who knows in advance the outcomes of all actions, in certain beliefs actually directing the individual actions of followers, would create such a dreadful place for so many of his/her/their subjects?
I expect many responses I receive to these questions will be based on the sacred texts used by the faithful. But, since these questions relate to the nature of these texts, I want answers that come from the hearts of those who espouse these various faiths. In other words, I’d like you to use your own minds and thoughts to form responses, rather than quote from texts you rely on for your faith. I will, in fact, delete all comments that rely solely on sacred texts. I want your opinions, not those you’ve been taught by your religious leaders. Thank you.