An Atheist’s Reply To Some Religious Nonsense

I was recently challenged in another place by a True Believer (let’s call him Mike) in God and in Christianity to come up with some good atheistic arguments which he could then presumably shoot all to hell. This is my result, albeit somewhat expanded and edited. Readers can judge whether or not they can be shot all to hell.

The argument against there being an almighty, all-omni God due to the presence of (a seemingly God-created in the first place) ‘natural’ evil is just too easy a target and has been done to death. But here’s a quick recap.

There is ‘natural’ evil and resulting suffering in the world through no fault of the human species. Think here of diseases, birth defects, accidents, animal attacks, storms, earthquakes, and a rather lengthy list just unravels from there. As the saying goes, “life’s a bitch and then you die”. Now if God doesn’t give a right royal stuff about ‘natural’ evil then God is not an omnibenevolent, all-loving and all-caring God (which has already been shown to be the case by events depicted in the Old Testament). Strike One. If God can’t intervene and stop these ‘natural’ evil events then He is not all-powerful (omnipotent). Strike Two. If God is unaware of these unfolding ‘natural’ evil events then God is not all-knowing (omniscient). Strike Three.

The next biggest reason IMHO to call the concept of a deity, any deity, a fictional nonsense and a human invention (i.e. – God was created in the image of ‘Man’) is that humans have invented multi-thousands of mutually exclusive deities, deities who collectively comprise the populace of multi-hundreds of supernatural-based religions of which God and Christianity are just one lone example within that multitude. All of these mutually exclusive religions / theologies can’t be all correct but they can be all wrong and it’s that observation that I can’t stress highly enough.

All of these other deities and associated religions or theologies were conceived of by people and I see no reason why God / Christianity should be the exception to the rule. Many of these inventive and creative people and ultimately those associated True Believers in and of their religions / theologies (Scientology comes to mind here) would be as intelligent and in some cases more intelligent, rational and logical than Mike is with respect to Mike’s God / Christianity. So Mike’s say-so cuts no mustard. Based on that observation alone, I see no reason to elevate Mike’s God and Mike’s religion / theology and Mike’s belief system above the rest of the pack, including Scientology which I’m sure Mike and readers here will agree is absolute hogwash. That said, many an articulate, educated, intelligent, logical and overall seemingly rational person has expressed their belief system and philosophical worldviews around Scientology. Go figure!

Further, reality / truth, especially religious reality / truth is not determined by a democratic system; by a popular vote or by-the-numbers popularity. If that were the case astrology and variations on that theme would be the number one belief going and obviously therefore something representing really real reality. Just because there are more True Believers regarding Christianity or Islam than Scientology doesn’t in and of itself mean that Scientology isn’t the really real reality relative to Christianity / Islam which are to Scientologists really, really fake as a $3 bill. Then again, of course, they are probably all nonsense.

In another time and place Mike would be trying to convince me, or at least argue with logical and rational passion of how divine and godly Mike’s Japanese / Chinese Emperor or Mike’s Egyptian Pharaoh was or how the god Viracocha created and brought civilisation to the peoples of South America. So is Mike an atheist when it comes to Viraocoha of the Incas? Probably. There’s no more evidence for God than there is for Quetzalcoatl or for Io of the Maori people (New Zealand) or for Pele (of the Hawaiian Islands) or for The Aten (of Ancient Egypt) or of the Rainbow Serpent of the Australian Aborigines. The deity list goes on and on and on.

A central tenant of our monotheistic religions is The Creation – “In the beginning… ” Alas, there are literally hundreds of mutually exclusive creation accounts dealing with the supernatural origin of the cosmos and/or of the Sun, Moon and the stars and/or of the Earth and/or of plants and animals and especially/or especially of human beings (thus elevating our own sense of importance). Every religion, every theology, every culture, every society, in every era has had their version of The Creation. As I said, there are hundreds of creation mythologies all due to the existence of hundreds of mutually exclusive and extremely diverse deities.

Why so many deities and why so diverse? While I’ve given elsewhere my explanations for the origin of religion and deities and religious stories – the need for agency (i.e. – god of the gaps) and the desire for an afterlife, there’s another explanation for the origin of deities and of religious tall tales and this parallels the origin of all other tall tales – the need (probably hardwired) to invent and tell stories. And so we have ‘Man’, the story-telling animal including stories central to all manner of folktales, myths and legends.

Story-telling appears to be one rather definitive trait that seems to be a pretty clear separation twixt humans and the rest of the animal kingdom. Numbering in the multi-millions, we have story-telling novels, short stories, poems, TV shows, feature films, theatre plays, and of course numerous oral story-telling traditions across many cultures and societies and eras. The medium of dance / ballet and other forms of artistic creativity like opera and songs often transmits a story-telling message.

The story-telling themes are numerous: historical costume and drama epics; dark fantasy (i.e. – ghosts, vampires, werewolves, etc.); light fantasy laced with comedy and more suitable for kids (i.e. – Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny and other talking animals); pure fantasy (i.e. – dragons, unicorns, elves, witches & warlocks, and most of the traditional fairy tales); law & order crime drams and whodunits; soap operas and romances; comedies and romantic comedies; sports tales; science fiction; action / adventure; frontier tales; sea shanties and of course pornography. There are also of course now and again religious / supernaturally themed stories* interwoven into many of these other categories. Is there any Biblical tall tale which doesn’t incorporate or fit in one or more of these story-telling categories? If that’s the case, what does that suggest about the Bible and those story-telling authors who penned all of those chapters and verses? Perhaps the Bible is just another work of pure historical fiction.

It’s quite obvious to all those with open minds that large parts of the Bible were plagiarised, stolen and/or highly adapted from far, far earlier myths and legends originating from or in those Near and Middle Eastern regions (especially from what today is known as Iraq). There’s hardly a Biblical tale that you can’t trace back to and also find some close variation of in the mythologies of earlier cultures, societies and civilisations. This makes sense as the local people who penned the chapters and verses of what was to become the Bible would have been quite familiar with those earlier established folktales of the region just like we are familiar with our own regional / national but historical cultural myths and legends**. An obvious example of the incorporation of historical myths and legends given a reworking was how German composer Richard Wagner adopted and adapted many Norse and German tall tales as the foundations for many of his operas / musical drams, especially “The Ring” cycle.

The biggest giveaway that the Bible is pure historical fiction are those hundreds of quote-unquote monologues and dialogues that are presented in and pepper Biblical texts. These quote-unquote statements (i.e. – Noah said or Moses said or Jesus said – quote-unquote) represent conversations which human authors writing said historical fiction could invent but which, if you think of the Bible as non-fiction, you’d be hard-pressed to identify who was actually recording these monologues / dialogues down on the spot in real time. Who was Noah’s scribe? Historical fictional characters get monologues / dialogues; real historical characters do not.

The proof of that pudding is that there are multi-dozens of books written about Pharaoh Tutankhamen but you won’t find any references to what Tutankhamen said – quote-unquote. Ditto that for the most famous woman of all time and in the history of the world, Cleopatra VII, and what about Alexander-the-Great – what did old Alex ever actually say – quote-unquote? We know Nero allegedly fiddled while Rome burned but what did Nero ever orally say that’s on the record – quote-unquote? Can you tell me what Plato or Homer said – quote-unquote – orally said apart from what they wrote? Of course we know what the characters in the “The Iliad” and “The Odyssey” said – quote-unquote – but those are works of historical fiction, just like the Bible! Of course we also know what Gilgamesh said – quote-unquote – but that tale too is historical fiction. For that matter what did Shakespeare ever say (apart from what he allegedly wrote) – quote-unquote? Even in more recent times, can you tell me – quote-unquote – anything that Billy-the-Kid actually said?

Yet Mike can tell me with authority and conviction what Adam & Eve, and let’s say what Abraham actually said – quote-unquote – not to mention (but I will anyway) that talking snake and donkey. I rest my case!

I rest my case other than to acknowledge that while none of the above proves that God doesn’t exist (you can’t prove a negative), it certainly IMHO puts a large dent in His credibility.

*Religious-themed stories (oft referred to as mythologies) are as much made-up make-believe fiction as any stories that feature Sherlock Holes, Harry Potter, James Bond, Captain Kirk, and thousands of other characters that grace the annals and cinema screens of pure fiction.

**For example, if you’re American, you know about Washington cutting down the cherry tree; about Paul Bunyan and his Ox; and about all those man-on-man gunfights in those dusty western streets at high noon (which is in a fact a myth).