Monday, May 16, 2011

My Answers to Famous "10 Questions" Video

Below is a video of the first 10 Questions I will be answering. Please remember that this video does NOT represent my beliefs, that these questions were asked by somebody else and that I seek to refute his line of thought in answering them.

This is a very well known Youtube video with many responses by other posters. It is also, in my opinion, a very shortsighted and ignorant video. I believe most intelligent Atheists or Agnostics would see the shortcomings in many of these questions on their own, and that they could come up with more probing and deeper questions about religion than these. But the questions listed here are nevertheless common and widespread, and I feel they're a good starting point for our discussion. So watch the video, and after you listen to the narrator ask each question, pause it and read my correlating response below. I will include all 10 responses today, so it'll be a long post.

1. I believe that God, as the creator of matter and all that exists, created earth and earth’s laws. To put it in terms you would understand, he plays by those laws. Nothing on earth happens that isn't directly justifiable by science, including "miracles". If God wants something to happen, he can make it happen within the confines of the earthly boundaries he has created. Scientifically, cancer can go away. Strokes can be recovered from. Paraplegics can regain motion. All these things are possible, yet all are miracles to the people they relate to, especially if science gave them an improbable chance of recovery. Improbable and impossible are two very different words. If somebody loses a limb, science as we know it doesn't allow for that limb to be reground. But are prosthetic limbs not basically the same concept? 1:50 of the video is completely laughable. Miracles do not need to defy the laws of science.

2. I do believe God answers prayers. Many of my own have been answered. That doesn't mean the answer is yes. God can reply in 3 ways to a prayer: yes, no, or not yet. Now obviously he's not going to ride down on some cloud and inform you if your prayer has been accepted by the heavenly admissions office. Prayer is not really a request, so much as a verbal formulation of your thoughts. God is all knowing; he knows full well what you want and what you're going to pray for before you do. Prayer is more for your benefit than your own. It brings you closer to God by forcing you to verbally, or at least mentally, express your spirituality and communicate your will. When I pray I realize that me folding my fingers and saying my wishes aloud won't make whatever I pray for more or less likely to occur, it’s just away for me to symbolically show my allegiance, trust, and love of God as one to confide my worries in. And, honestly, it does relieve stress, much in the same way confiding your problems to a friend would.

So in response to the specific question, I reply that prayer is not a means of getting whatever we want. Earth, by design, is not Utopia, and its better that way in my opinion. A utopia would be boring, and is literally impossible to ever achieve on earth. Billions of people struggle in every corner of the world at every second of every day. God being "loving", which he is, doesn't mean he just grants us our every wish. Life is unfair, and he wants PEOPLE to help one another. God want us to be his hands, to be his tools for fixing the world. Saying "well the world sucks so if there were a God why isn't it perfect?" is one of the oldest, stupidest atheist arguments in the books.

3. I do not take the Bible literally, contrary to some radical Christians. It is important to remember that the Bible was written by human hands. Were they writing about God and God's prophets? Yes. Were they detailing real life events and recording the life of Jesus from dozens of nearly identical historical perspectives? Absolutely. But the books of the Bible were assembled by Catholic popes and the text was written by imperfect human hands from a time 2,000 years ago, in several different languages which have since been imperfectly translated dozens of times back and forth. The general themes of the Bible; worship, love, kindness, generosity, helping others, etc., are nearly identical to that of the Koran, the Torah, and many other holy books from many religions. While the details and beliefs are not universal from religion, the guidelines for human conduct are amazingly similar, suggesting a common goal and common force between all religions. So the Bible is a wonderful book and an awe inspiring testimony of real life events, incredibly brave people, and is a testament of God's divine love...but it is not to be interpreted word for word.

4. Basically, see number 3. The Bible was written by people 2,000 years ago, for readers 2,000 years ago, recording events of 2,000 years ago. Modern scientific truths would seem every bit as fanciful and outlandish to people living millenniums ago as the Bible does to you. Imagine trying to explain evolution to uneducated peasants from the year 100. I am an avid believer of evolution AND the Bible: when you don't take every word in the Bible literally, nothing between religion and science contradicts whatsoever. I don't believe that the earth was actually created in 6 24-hour intervals; I do believe a divine, all knowing being created the universe and set the big bang, evolution, and all other aspects of our existence into effect. The minute scientific plausibility of every biblical sentence is irrelevant to faith in God.

5. See numbers 3 and 4. Slavery was a fact of life in Jesus' time, and so the recording of those times, written by people of those times, treats it as such. The Declaration of Independence is a good, true document. It did not expressly outlaw slavery. Does that mean the whole document is trash? No! The general concepts of both the Bible and the declaration hint that slavery is wrong: "love your neighbor as you love yourself", "treat others as you would want to be treated" and "all men are created equal" are pretty similar, aren't they? All those phrases suggest slavery is wrong.

6. See #2

7. Um, what? You can tell the author of this video is just grappling for something to say at this point. What do you mean by evidence? We have over 60 books in the bible, over 25 in the New Testament, and all deal with the same events. Jesus Christ has unquestionably shaped our earth greater than any other human being in history, and he did it all before he turned 35, without traveling more than 100 miles away from his birthplace, while being completely illiterate. The entirety of Western civilization is the way it is today because of this man. As historical events go, that’s about as big a footprint as you get. What more “evidence” do you want? A 2,000 year old frozen bit of divine saliva?

8. See numbers 1 and 2. The observations of our senses are not the only source of human knowledge. I have never seen, heard, smelled, tasted, or felt China, but I know it exists. True, the sources of knowing God exists are different than the ones I utilize to know China exists, but that’s another issue entirely.

9. Wow. The first 5 questions made me roll my eyes a bit, but for half of these last 5 I’ve literally laughed out loud. Do you really think it’s that simple? Do you really think the wine I drink at communion tastes like blood and is some exotic form of cannibalism? It’s symbolic! Communion is a sacrament made to remember Jesus’ sacrifice for us, and to show that we keep Jesus inside us at all times. It’s not actually consuming his biological elements.

10. Humans decide their actions. God does not force human beings to do anything. Christians act of their own free will in the same ways all other people do. Your beliefs and mine, your actions and mine, and your thoughts and mine are all entirely up to you. If people, Christian or not, choose to marry too early or choose to get divorced, it’s their fault, not God’s.

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