How Do Christians Know That Christianity Is a Trick by Satan?

For several years now I’ve been thinking about how Christians could ever know that Christianity is real, and not some clever trick that Satan used to lead people away from the real God? So far, I’ve found no good answers to my problems.

Christians are convinced that Jesus is God and also rose from the dead, but once one starts invoking the supernatural, you open the doors to all kinds of crazy possibilities that we cannot investigate. Think about it. If Satan is some supernatural being, who’s to say what Satan can, and cannot, do. Is rising from the dead beyond the abilities of Satan? Can Satan even be killed? Can Satan perform miracles? I don’t know what the answers to these questions are (assuming Satan is real), but I’m willing to bet that Christians don’t have any solid answers either. At least, no answers they can demonstrate as true.

What if Satan and God were actually working together (kind of like the story of Job), and God challenged Satan to lure as many people away from Judaism as possible. Satan, given free reign, comes to Earth and claims to be the promised messiah. He finds 12 peasants to convince that he’s this messiah by performing some miracles, including raising Lazarus from the dead. To put the cherry on the top of the cake, Satan goes and gets himself killed, knowing that he’s an immortal angel, and will come back to life sometime later. Maybe the disciples really did experience a resurrected Jesus, but it was just another of Satan’s tricks.

Christians, how do you know that your Christian beliefs are actually true, and that events described in the Bible don’t represent the works of Satan (or any other supernatural being?) If we’re talking about some of the most important questions we can ever ask, shouldn’t we want to have a reliable way to investigate these questions, to know if you’re being deceived? Should we just rely on an old book, and hope that what it says is actually true?

Now, I don’t think that Jesus was Satan in disguise, but I also don’t think Satan exists either. If you do believe Satan exists, and you’re willing to accept supernatural explanations, why do you get to assert your preferred supernatural explanation, and pretty much ignore the multitude of other possibilities? How do you actually know that Jesus really was God?

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You Reject [X] Because of Your Pride

In a recent blog post from Gary M, over at Escaping Christian Fundamentalism, I noticed the following quote from David Robertson:

The bottom line is that you do not believe because of your pride and arrogance – its nothing to do with evidence. Your mocking superior and snide tone comes from someone who thinks he is educated but displays all the ignorance and prejudice of the man with his eyes firmly closed = yelling ‘it doesn’t exist, I can’t see it. One day you will see…I just hope that it is not on the Judgement Day.

I see this claim a lot, and an various forms. The conversation shifts from being about evidence, and reason, to suddenly being an attack on why the person has rejected their position. It’s really nothing more than a cheap stunt that only serves to derail the conversation, by engaging in cheap ridicule, and veiled threats, rather than any objective examination of the proposition in question.

I get frustrated whenever I read something like this, and it happens much more often than I’d like. Maybe, just maybe, Mr Conservative Christian pastor, the problem really is with the evidence. Maybe the problem is that the “evidence” that you do have isn’t of sufficient quality, and quantity, to justify the extravagant claims that you’re talking about.

Let’s also remember that, at the end of the day, the Christian apologist wants me to believe that there is an afterlife, and that my beliefs about Jesus have some significant impact on what happens to me in that afterlife. The evidence that Christians present for this outrageous claim? The Bible! They seem to take it for granted that their Holy Book should be compelling to everyone, and not just those who already believe.

But let’s take another look at this. Let’s suppose that some Muslim presented the evidence for their case for Islam, and they think it is sufficient and compelling. After presenting their case (which almost always comes in the form of arguments, and rarely any kind of objective evidence) the non-believer informs them that “hey, I’m not convinced that your claim is all that credible, and I don’t find your evidence to be anywhere close to compelling.” Suppose now that the Islamic apologist offered up exactly the same kind of reply that Robertson brings forward: That we don’t want to be Muslims because of our pride and arrogance? That we’re too full of pride, and arrogance, to submit to the will of the almighty Allah, and recognize that the Qur’an represent his perfect revelation for all humanity? Do you think such a reply should ever be acceptable in that situation? If not, why do Christians think that it’s acceptable to make such a statement, when it comes to their faith tradition? I really doubt a Christian would tolerate this kind of response from somebody else when they reject other claims.

Christians, if you want me to take you seriously, skip making statements like this. Work on trying to find common ground, and try to understand why I don’t find your evidence compelling. Don’t start telling me that my pride is getting in the way, when your story comes off as nonsense, with no credible evidence!

“It’s a Relationship, Not a Religion”

Speak with Protestant Christians long enough and you’re bound to hear this phrase, or something like it. “Christianity isn’t a religion [like all the other religions], it’s a personal relationship with Jesus” doesn’t mean much to me when you cannot demonstrate that you actually have any personal relationship with the creator of everything.

Let me tell you what I’d like: Since you have such a close, and personal, relationship with Jesus, why don’t you ask Jesus some questions for me, and we’ll try to figure out just how “personal” this relationship really is! Better yet, let’s get a group of people together, who also claim to have this “personal relationship”, and perform this experiment. We’ll make sure that people can’t talk to each other while we’re asking the questions. Let’s see how your answers line up with the answers of others who also claim this magical status. I’m willing to bet the results will look exactly like chance!

Now, while this probably won’t convince somebody who already thinks they’re in a relationship with Jesus, that their relationship isn’t real, it does put some serious doubt in the mind of any skeptic. Why is it that there are millions of Protestant Christians, claiming to be in a personal relationship with an omnipotent, omniscient, being, but this relationship seems to be limited to giving you good feelings about what’s going to happen to you after you die (oh, and that homosexuality is wrong if you’re a conservative Christian)?

And frankly, why do Christians even need the Bible at all when they have a relationship with somebody who should be able to tell them exactly what they need to know? Throw your damned Bible away and get Jesus to tell you what you need to know. How many Christian denominations are there, where members claim to be in a personal relationship with Jesus, and most cannot agree on anything!

“But no other religion puts you in a relationship with God”

This is a related claim that I hear a lot from Protestants, and frankly, so what? I’m pretty sure that virtually every religion out there can find some unique aspect to it. The fact that there are some unique aspects to your religion doesn’t make your religion any more likely to be true. Uniqueness is simply not a good measure of truth.

I’d take the whole “it’s not a religion” claim a little more seriously if it could demonstrated to be real. Instead, when we look at the “I’m in a personal relationship with Jesus” claim, it unfortunately has all the appearances of an imaginary friend, who usually has strict rules about how you are to behave, and that you’re somehow going to live with him after you’re dead. That sounds like a religion to me.

Plantinga’s Modal Ontological Argument

Of all the arguments for God, I think the ontological argument is the least convincing, and probably the most laughable. That’s why I continue to find it amazing that anybody thinks that this represents a good argument for God existing!

For those who are unfamiliar, the modal ontological argument goes as follows:

1. It is possible that God exists
2. If it is possible that God exists then God exists in some possible world
3. If God exists in some possible world then God exists in all possible worlds
4. If God exists in all possible worlds then God exists in the actual world
5. Therefore God exists in the actual world

Essentially the theist is trying to argue that the mere possibility of God means that God must, necessarily, exist. It’s as if Christians think that they can simply define God as something that necessarily exists, then tell me that it exists, and think that this represents a compelling case for the existence of God.

One has to wonder at what goes through the minds of apologists when they think that a purely analytical (a priori) argument can somehow generate new facts, as if pure thought can tell you something about reality?! If anybody tried the same kind of argument, with anything else, I would hope they would be laughed out of the room unmercifully! So why does anybody treat the ontological argument for God any different than they would the ontological argument for the necessicorn[1]?

Now, I get it. Theists are always looking for ways to justify their absurd beliefs. They didn’t arrive at the idea that God exists from reason, but ideas need to be defended, and protected. As always, apologists start with their conclusion, and try to work backwards to justify it. We see it all the time: Ask a Christian why they believe and they’ll never tell you it was because they read some argument.

If you’re a theist, and you think the ontological argument represents a good argument, I cannot stop you from thinking this. What I will tell you is that if you want to convince me that something exists, you’re going to need to do a lot better than some purely a priori argument, that assert that something’s nature is to exist. This kind of medieval thinking has been thrown away, and you should throw it away too! The only way to convince me that something exists is with empirical evidence. Please don’t waste my time (or yours either) with word games!


[1] The necessicorn is equine like creature, with a single horn sticking out of its forehead, that also has the property of necessarily existing.

Make America a Shithole?! Are You Kidding?

I often times like to wander around the internet, and see the opinions of fundamentalist Christians, who tend to sit on the far right of the political topics. I don’t tend to read much from the political left, because I’m more interested in challenging my existing ideas, and trying to see if I’m wrong about what I already believe.

There’s one Faceb**k group known as “The Conservative Hammer”, and on one post, about people being assaulted for wearing MAGA hats, somebody posted the above image. While I in no way support the idea of assaulting people because they wear stupidity on their head, the idea voting Democrat will turn the United States into a shithole seems to be wildly off base. Given how fundamentalists are often disconnected from reality, I’m none too surprised about this.

When I think of American shitholes, that is places I wouldn’t ever want to live, the states that pop into my head are Mississippi, Alabama, and Arkansas. Given the choice of any state in the union, these would be very low on my list. On the other hand, if I wanted to think of the states I’d most want to live in, my choices would probably be something like New York, Washington, or Massachusetts, which are firmly “blue” states. Now, this may just be my own personal bias showing itself, but we can look at these states based on a few important metrics, like life expectancy, child mortality, average income.

According to World Population Review, the following states are considered firmly “red” states: Alabama, Alaska, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, and Wyoming. While the following are firmly “blue” states: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.

Let’s look at those states, marked in either red or blue, and how they rank on these metrics. Note that the Life Expectancy, and Average Income, statistics include US territories, but the Child Mortality column does not.

State Life Expectancy
(Age)
Average Income
(US Dollars)
Child Mortality
(Deaths / 100,000)
Alabama 74.9 (53) $48,123 (47) 9.6 (47)
Alaska 77.8 (37) $73,181 (8) 6.1 (14)
California 80.9 (3) $71,805(9) 5.6 (8)
Connecticut 80.6 (6) $74,168 (6) 6.0 (13)
Delaware 78.2 (28) $62,852 (18) 9.4 (46)
Hawaii 81.5 (1) $77,765 (4) 6.6 (18)
Idaho 79.0 (23) $52,225 (41) 6.2 (17)
Illinois 79.0 (23) $62,992 (17) 7.8 (36)
Kansas 78.2 (28) $56,422 (31) 7.6 (33)
Maryland 78.8 (25) $80,776 (2) 7.4 (30)
Massachusetts 79.9 (8) $77,385 (5) 5.4 (6)
Minnesota 80.7 (4) $68,388 (13) 5.2 (4)
Montana 76.9 (43) $53,386 (38) 7.1 (27)
Nebraska 79.1 (19) $59,970 (27) 5.8 (9)
New Jersey 80.4 (7) $80,088 (3) 5.4 (5)
New Mexico 77.7 (37) $46,744 (48) 6.2 (16)
New York 80.7 (4) $64,894 (15) 6.0 (11)
North Dakota 78.6 (26) $61,843 (19) 6.2 (15)
Oklahoma 75.4 (49) $50,051 (44) 8.2 (40)
Oregon 79.2 (19) $60,212 (21) 5.9 (10)
Rhode Island 79.3 (15) $63,870 (16) 6.8 (23)
South Carolina 76.2 (46) $50,570 (32) 9.7 (49)
South Dakota 78.1 (30) $56,521 (30) 7.4 (29)
Tennessee 76.0 (47) $51,340 (42) 9.3 (45)
Utah 76.0 (47) $65,358 (14) 4.7 (1)
Vermont 79.3 (15) $57,513 (28) 6.7 (19)
Washington 79.9 (8) $70,979 (11) 5.2 (3)
Wyoming 80.0 (31) $60,434 (20) 7.0 (26)
Red Average 77.4 $56,878.77 7.3
Blue Average 79.74 $68,028.73 6.37

So there are some interesting things that come out of this table. First, there doesn’t seem to be any reason to think that voting Democrat has anything to do with a state being a “shithole”, unless we start to consider other metrics. Looking at these numbers, Democratic states tend to have higher life expectancy, higher household incomes, and lower child mortality rates than Republican stronghold states.

What’s more interesting, is that looking at the data it seems that living in the Bible Belt is a pretty strong predictor of life expectancy, income, and child mortality. Bible Belt states generally score worse on these statistics than non-Bible belt states. This doesn’t surprise me, as I’ve long known about the correlation between religiosity and social dysfunction. I’ll note that I don’t think that religiosity is causing the social dysfunction, but is most likely a result of social dysfunction, as people adopt religion as a means of coping.

What is also interesting are some of the states that are missing from the table above, most notably Mississippi, and Arkansas, two states I tend to think of as “shitholes.” These two states tend to lean Republican when they vote, but are not as firmly entrenched with the Republican party, but the numbers are horrifying!

Arkansas 75.4 (49) $45,869 (50) 8.0 (37)
Mississippi 74.5 (55) $43,529 (51) 11.5 (50)

Both of these states have average household incomes well below the national average, while life expectancy is right at the bottom of US states, and have infant mortality rates that aren’t too good either. For states that typically vote Republican, it doesn’t seem to have done them a lot of good for creating places that people should want to live.

If I had to choose, I’d generally prefer to live in a “blue” state, with higher incomes, higher life expectancy, and lower child mortality, than live in a “red” state, where these metrics tend to be worse.

On El Paso and Dayton

Yesterday, August 5th 2019, there were two mass shootings in the US. More bodies pile up and people continue to kill each in continued violence that is not seen in any other major industrialized country on Earth. No other industrialized country gives its citizens the right to own firearms, and no other industrialized country is forced to deal with anything even close to the level of carnage that continues unabated.

With so many mass shootings, and the tragic amount of death that has happened this year already, you might think that US lawmakers would be trying to do something to get some reasonable gun control reforms passed. Yet it never seems to happen. Lawmakers seem completely paralyzed, and unable to do anything other than offer their meaningless “thoughts and prayers” for the victims, and their families. I can only assume that powerful lobbying, by gun rights groups like the National Rifle Association, keep lawmakers, and grassroots reforms, from making any meaningful progress. The United States could, relatively easily, repeal the second amendment, and remove the right to own firearms, but that’s not going to happen anytime soon.

Over and over again we hear the same, tired, cliches from gun rights advocates: “I have the right to protect myself”, “don’t blame the responsible gun owners for the actions of bad gun owners”, “we need guns to overthrow a corrupt government”, “we just need more good guys with guns.” I wish I could earn a dollar every time I hear somebody utter these kinds of excuses.

I’ll admit that I don’t know entirely what the answer is, because it’s a problem that has been made over many decades, and I doubt any solution can possibly fix the problem quickly. That said, I have to say that at this point I consider the US second amendment to be an utterly failed experiment. How many more times do we ride the merry-go-round of mass shooting, followed by empty words, and complete inaction to curb the violence? How long before people wake up and start to demand substantive actions to help prevent future gun violence?

An Amazing 40% of Americans Reject the Scientific Consensus on Evolution

According to a recent Gallup poll, 40% of Americans still believe that humans were created in their present form by God, and reject the scientific consensus that humans have evolved. Only 22% of those polled believe that humans evolved without the need for divine intervention.

There is some positive news that comes with this: This is the lowest level of support for special creationism, in the United States, since Gallup started polling. As the United States slowly becomes less religious, other non-sense beliefs are also shifting. Also, the support for non-theistic evolution has been rising steadily for nearly two decades. Both of these facts are promising developments for the secularization of America.

There are some interesting statistics that Gallup also provided, including how religious attendance, religion, and education levels, affect how likely a person is to accept evolution.

Let us hope that these trends continue, and accelerate.