Part 2 of the interview between current me and Christian me…
Atheist Tim: Do you think that people who have never been exposed to Christianity have a moral or spiritual gap?
Christian Tim: Probably not. Maybe they have a moral gap. I know a lot of people who would argue that. But I suppose people can be simultaneously non-Christian and content with their life
AT: Interesting about the moral gap. Do you feel that Christians are more moral than non-Christians?
CT: Yes and no. Clearly there are a lot of religions that have a strong correllation to violence, but then again, Christianity is not innocent in that
AT: What do you think about the notion that the Christian bible provides a source of moral authority?
CT: To the extent that it provides the 10 commandments and other things like that, I guess that’s probably true. And if I believe that Christians are more moral, then I suppose that must mean that something about Christianity is more moral. That difference might as well be some interplay between the teachings in the bible and their relationship to God.
AT: What about passages in the bible that seem to advocate slavery, murder, rape, and genocide?
CT: Doesn’t most of that stuff happen in the old testament? That’s what Christianity is for
AT: But the bible says that Jesus believes entirely in the old testament
CT: Well, maybe the bible is not the ultimate source of morality
AT: Then what is?
CT: I guess it’s our own internal morality plus what we learn as kids plus our relationship to God.
AT: So why do we need the bible?
CT: Maybe we don’t. If the bible advocated slavery and rape anywhere, then I must be more moral than the context of those passages.
AT: So why do you need Christianity?
CT: It still describes God.
AT: What about God is important to your life?
CT: If you believe in God, then you believe he created everything, and gives us our internal compass
AT: But you just conceded that the bible isn’t necessary for morality
CT: That doesn’t prove our morality isn’t given to us by God. It also doesn’t prove that God didn’t create the universe
AT: So the bible isn’t necessary to describe God?
CT: I suppose that’s what I just conceded.
AT: If we’re given a moral compass by God, do you really need Christianity or the bible?
CT: Not if we can remember to practice good behavior throughout the rest of human existence
AT: Are there any ways to compel morality without religion?
CT: Laws, social conventions, teaching empathy
AT: Do you believe a religion-less society that has laws, social conventions, and a lot of empathy can be just as moral as a society that derives its
morality directly from the bible?
AT: Why do you believe God is necessary for our existence here.
CT: I suppose we could be here without a God, but that seems really unlikely. I can’t even imagine how that could have possibly happened.
AT: Would you agree that there are things you don’t understand, but are simultaneously logical and well-understood? How about things that all of humanity
fails to understand, but are still logical and discoverable?
CT: Yes and yes.
AT: So why couldn’t it be the case that the beginning of the universe and life was simultaneously complicated and did not involve God?
CT: I suppose that could be, but God seems like an easier explanation
AT: Would you say it was an easier explanation that the sun and all the planets revolve around the earth?
CT: I’d say it was more convenient
AT: Was that a correct description of the solar system?
CT: No. Look, even if God didn’t intervene in humanity, he could still exist as the enforcer of the natural laws of the universe
AT: Oh like deism or pantheism?
CT: I guess. I’m not familiar with those concepts
AT: Deism is the notion that God exists but does not reveal himself. Pantheism is where God is intertwined in all the workings of the universe
CT: That sounds good. I don’t know how you could argue against that.
AT: Is there any way to distinguish between a god who exists but doesn’t reveal himself and a universe where there is no god at all?
CT: Maybe in a situation where there is no god, the universe would all fall apart.
AT: Do you deny the possibility that there could simultaneously be no god AND have a universe that functions under the same laws and processes as the one we
CT: I don’t know.
AT: What do you think about hell?
CT: It seems to exist…at least in Christianity. I think other religions believe in versions of hell, too
AT: Do you think a God who would punish someone with eternal hellfire is worth worshipping?
CT: It is pretty messed up
AT: What would you do if you made it into heaven, but none of the people you knew while you were alive did?
CT: That would be really sad
AT: Do you think the standard for behavior is well-defined for entry into heaven?
CT: Do good things and praise God.
AT: What if you’re practicing a religion that is inconsistent with other religions and their standards for entry into heaven? And what if the real god has
1-and-only-1 religion that is the correct way to get into heaven?
CT: Then I guess I’m either right or wrong, and the odds are I’m wrong. It would be a shame that so many people spent their whole lives worshipping to the
wrong god or learning the wrong ways to get into heaven. I hope that’s not the case though.
AT: Do you think these odds merit practicing any religion?
CT: I am a Christian.
AT: What if you’re wrong?
CT: Then I’d better get used to high heat.
AT: Do you think that bad people can get into heaven?
CT: That’s what I hear
AT: If a person asks for forgiveness and professes their sins?
AT: Don’t you think it’s interesting that God needs you to profess your sins? Couldn’t he just read your mind?
CT: I guess so
AT: Do you think that good people can get sent to hell?
CT: I suppose that’s true, too.
AT: So, in some people’s version of Christianity, murderers, rapists, and child molesters can get into heaven, but a person who missed church a few times or
a kid whose parent didn’t get them baptized can go to hell. Does that seem like loving concern for humanity?
AT: Has the thought ever crossed your mind that an entity who has the capacity to stop the most evil and barbaric things, but doesn’t do so, might be
deficient of morality?
CT: Not really.
AT: Would you stop a rape or molestation or murder if you had the ability?
CT: Yes, of course.
AT: What would you think about a person who refused to stop such a thing?
CT: I’d think they’re a fucking monster.
AT: But you don’t think that about God?
CT: I’m sure some religious people have worked out why that is. Isn’t that the problem of evil, or something like that?
AT: Or it could be that people who pray are just inventing an invisible father who does nothing except for failing to exist. Do you believe religion is a
force for good in the world?
CT: I think it has its good parts and bad parts.
AT: What are the good parts?
CT: It creates a framework and streamlined process for charity.
AT: Is there any moral thing religious people can do that atheists can’t?
CT: I suppose not.
AT: What are some of the bad things religion does?
CT: You name it. Crusades, terrorism, genital mutilation, violent suppression of scientific progress
AT: If you were to build a statistical model to predict a person’s religion, how important would you say the person’s parent’s religion would be in that
CT: It’s probably the most important variable
AT: Do you think that model would hold in predicting religions other than Christianity or religions over the course of history?
CT: Almost certainly. There are probably exceptions, though.
AT: Do you think some religions are more logical and reasonable than others?
CT: Probably, although my religion has a guy who walked on water and turned water into booze, so I’m not sure reasonable is a nail I want to hang my hat on
– no pun intended.
AT: Do you think it says anything that no matter how irrational, a person will adopt their parent’s religion?
CT: I don’t knowFollow @TimSteppingOut