I have spent way too much time on the web reading "Questions for Theists" and "Questions for Atheists". Far too much time. I have fallen prey to the question bug. The problem I have is the questions all seem to be "gotcha" questions. I decided to come up with a list of questions that I really want answers to.
1) Do Indians go to Hell?
The native people who never had the option of experiencing the good word of your faith have a bit of a problem. I have heard some ideas that if they never had the option of hearing the good word they automatically get into heaven. That does make one wonder why people proselytize? Seems like screwing them over to save them from the screwing. If there are other explanations I would love to hear them. This hemisphere was without the word of God. Maybe God is just a prick but seems to me that an omnipotent being would have a contingency for being born in the Americas.
2) Is there anything you would not do if God commanded it?
Would you kill your own child? Would you slaughter towns full of people? Would you stone adulterers to death? These are all things done by the command of God in the Old Testament. Would you, as a western monotheist, do these sorts of things if commanded by God? If not, why not? How would you decide on the actions to follow?
This is a question which always bothers me in regards to biblical commands. People choose which ones to follow. They use common sense and personal morality. I wonder why they need the bible in the first place if they have common sense and individual morals. The question becomes more extreme were one to receive this command directly from God himself. If God says kill your child, do you?
3) How can one tell the difference between the actions of God and Satan?
If there is an event which defies physics and nature how can one tell if it is a miracle or dark magic? You could argue that it is the result, but God seems to do terrible things in the Bible. Are those boils are the result of black magic or the wrath of an angry God? How does one make that determination? I had a friend who said the tsunami of a few years ago spared the Masques because Allah caused the tsunami and was sending a sign. Michelle Bachman said something of the like recently. How do we know it was the Deity and not the demon? Just referring to the last question: how do you know God is God and not the Devil lying to you?
4) What would convince you that there is no God?
I often hear this for atheists, "What evidence would convince you that there is a GOD?" Well, I wonder if the question posed the other way bares any fruit. I am not suggesting that you have seen this evidence or that it is possible to see it, only some piece of information that, if true, would change your mind. If I met a big foot I would accept the big foot theory. If I were awakened from the Matrix and saw all the pods, I would accept that I had lived in the Matrix. Both of these seem silly to me but there is evidence which could change my mind. Is there any for you?
5) Define God.
What does that word mean? It is used so vaguely that it makes no sense to me. How about a solid definition which explains the concept. Maybe I am a theist. I do not know since I do not understand the concept. It could be my ignorance and I am willing to accept that. Educate me. Teach me what to look for. What are the parameters of God? The word is confusing to me.
I am not asking to prove a negative, as we all know there is some real difficulty in doing so. I am simply asking what would grant a preponderance of evidence.
These questions are not intended to trump or to catch people unprepared. I really want answers to these questions. Were I a theist I would hope these questions would be answered. I cannot imagine accepting a belief like God and not addressing these fairly pragmatic questions. None of these are intended to appeal to theologians or philosophers but to regular folks who accept a belief. The same sorts of questions could be applied to any proposition. In this case there are clearly things you (theist) know or understand that I (a-theist) do not. Explaining these to me and other atheists might go far in showing us the error of our ways.
Throughout this post I have referred to only the Old Testament God since it is an area of some agreement among Jews, Christians and Muslims.