There are a lot of questions that I would like to ask god. The trouble is that god’s answers would lead to many more questions, so my questions would have to become a conversation, delving ever deeper into god’s answers. From what is said about god he might not like that. God seems to want unconditional obedience, not question and answer sessions.
Note: I am not interested in answers from religious people of any kind. Such answers are typically based on faith and belief, not fact, and merely represent what the believer believes that his god means. I would prefer that my answers only come from someone who actually knows the truth–and will tell it–not from someone who simply believes that he knows the truth. God, of course, should rightly be expected to know the truth.
I here put forth my questions. I continue the conversation with an imaginary god to see what questions might follow from his answers.
Is the Bible truly your word, and is it completely true?
If the Bible is truly your word, why isn’t it perfect? Is it because of ineffability–or just to confuse anyone who tries to understand it? Did you deliberately make it that way to test your followers? If you are perfect, how could you make mistakes, even deliberate ones?
If the Bible is true, why are there contradictions in it? If it’s not meant to be taken literally, then a few contradictions are not important. Multiple accounts of the same matter might help some people understand the point of the story better. But if it is to be taken literally then those contradictions become important. Did you make some mistakes in the telling? Or did people write down your words wrongly?
Those contradictions prove that parts of the Bible are not true. That two contradictory statements cannot both be true is a basic fact of logic. If some parts of the Bible are untrue, what about the other parts? The fact that some parts of the Bible are untrue causes doubt about other parts. On that basis, should we accept any of it as being true–or just reject the whole of it out of hand?
If the Bible is not completely true, why do you let people believe that it is? Is that ineffability again, or don’t you care?
If you told people which parts of the Bible are true it would save us all a lot of trouble.
Do all religions follow the same god under different names, or is there more than one god?
I think that any god would have to answer that all religions follow the same god under different names. After all, no god is likely to admit that he is not the one and only god, that he has competitors. So perhaps we can’t expect an honest answer to this question.
But what does the evidence, such as it is, tell us? The gods of different religions have different names. But perhaps one god would use various pseudonyms to split up responsibility between a number of apparently different gods in order to mislead his followers, or perhaps for some other ineffable reason. Considering some of the things that gods are said to get up to, having “another” god (remember that it would actually be the same god under a different name) to blame for the less salubrious actions would definitely be a good idea. Any god–whether worthwhile, mischievous, or just plain psychotic–would almost certainly have thought of the idea of using different names.
These are not good answers, of course, but it seems unlikely that we can do any better unless we can find a god that we can rely on the tell the unvarnished truth. And that might be difficult given the reputation of most gods when it comes to stretching the truth for their own ends.
Would a god purposefully lie? That is another question that is difficult to answer, but it appears from what is said about gods that the possibility must be considered in some depth rather than simply ignored.
Why don’t you punish sinners and nonbelievers, and reward your followers?
If you punished sinners and nonbelievers you would convert many more people to belief and get many more followers. Similarly, if you rewarded your followers many more people would join up. In addition, showing that you actually exist in this way would prove it once and for all, thereby solving many of the problems of human life. No longer would people have to choose whether or not to believe, now they would know, and their faith in you would be that much stronger.
Assuming that you were impartial and constant, not only would such behavior encourage belief, but it would also be simple justice. Everyone would know that sin would be punished and belief would be rewarded. That would make people behave much better toward each other, as well as doing away with the inconsistencies of human law enforcement. If perfect, it follows that you would also be impartial and constant. But whether or not that is actually the case is yet another question that we must ask next.
Are you perfect?
If you are perfect, why did you create imperfect humans in an imperfect world? Believers say that the mess in the world is due to the devil corrupting your perfect creation. But in that case two questions arise… Why do you allow the devil to do it? And why, since you created everything, did you create the devil in the first place? Surely, it is not beyond your power to correct this situation, dispose of the devil, and make the world a much better place for everyone? You are omnipotent, aren’t you?
Since answers to these and many other questions are not forthcoming, further questions come to mind. Does god really exist to answer the question or not? Or does he just not care to answer them?
The simplest answer is that god does not exist and so there is no one there to answer these questions.
The alternative, that he doesn’t want to answer the questions or does not care enough about his followers to talk to them, is not much better. What is the use of a god who does not care about his followers? For all intents and purposes we might as well say that he does not exist.
In conclusion, then, we can say that there is no one there to provide the answers to our questions about god, religion, belief, or right and wrong–or many of the other questions about life and the universe.