R. E. Pucket was a faithful Christian for much of his life. However, as he began to expand his reading and investigate arguments against faith, he became convinced that faith was irrational. This impression was strengthened by the fact that Christians with which he interacted largely told him that he should believe for belief's sake, and that faith trumped rationality.
Pucket now spends a significant amount of time interacting with born again Christians who he feels are trying to convert him and win his soul. He rebuffs these attempts by presenting arguments that seem to stymie these Christians who in turn make vague appeals to "God's Plan" and blind faith.
In his article, "Top 50 Questions Christians Can't Answer" on Yahoo voices, Pucket lists out some of the arguments he has found that Christians seem to have no rational, logical answers for, and invites the readers to inspect their faith in light of these questions. Says Pucket:
"Don't get me wrong, they will have an answer for them. You will find, however, that their answers have no basis in verifiable fact or evidence whatsoever, and will be largely based in their blind faith forsaking all reason."
This series of articles will examine all fifty of Pucket's questions, five per article, and offer responses to these questions. One preliminary comment is in order:
A variety of the Christian views that Pucket attacks in these questions are held by a very specific sect of Christian believers, and by no means characterize the whole of Christian views. The questions also occasionally make broad statements which either mischaracterize Biblical teachings, or are backed up with no supporting evidence. Where these mistakes are made, the responses are largely aimed at correcting these mischaracterizations. This is not to say that the attack has no merit, but the attack would need to be re-worked to fit a proper representation of that belief.
Finally, it is worth noting that the questions are sometimes phrased in highly emotive or sarcastic forms. These articles will attempt to respond to the fundamental objection being raised, rather than the tone in which they are presented, however the questions themselves will be presented in their original form.
1 - If God is omnipotent (all-powerful), why did he take six days to create everything? Why not speak everything into existence all at once?
A significant number of theologians, dating back to early Jewish Rabbis, believe that the six days of the Genesis account mean something other than six literal days. Let's generalize the question so as not to defend only one particular view: "Why does God take any period of time to accomplish anything? Couldn't he just act timelessly?"
Assuming for a moment that God exists eternally, the amount of time he takes to do anything is irrelevant to him. It is only relevant to those objects and individuals who exist inside of time. Since matter and energy and the laws that govern them exist within four dimensions which includes the dimension of time, and since these laws of nature were created by God, God is simply following the laws he established in order to accomplish his purposes. Why God created time at all is a separate question, but the answer may well be that humans require the construct of past, present, and future in order to make free-will decisions; and humans need to be able to make free will decisions in order to have a relationship with their Creator. The purpose for which God created at all was the revelation of his nature through the person of Jesus Christ, and the tablet of time works beautifully to carry out this revelation.
2 - Why won't God heal amputees?
One type of healing for one very specific kind of physical impairment does almost nothing to solve the larger problem. Let's say that God healed every amputee as soon as they lost their limb. Why didn't he just prevent the loss of the limb in the first place? And isn't this genuinely unfair to people with diabetes, cancer, brain damage, and seizure disorders? And say God healed all of these. Does this suddenly make these people impervious or immortal, or do they still age, fall ill, get injured, and die? So in order to solve the larger problem, God would have to once and for all eliminate degeneration and death. This is exactly what Christianity claims that God does.
3 - If God is so perfect, then why did he create something so imperfect allowing pain, suffering and daily atrocities?
This is a nice transition from the previous question. Establishing that God has provided for the types of suffering in the world, now the issue arises, “how did the suffering come to be in the first place?” The Bible does explicitly state that God created a good world. It lays the blame for suffering on human rebellion. It then provides the solution to these difficulties in the work of Jesus Christ.
4 - Why did the little old lady that God healed one Sunday need her walker to get around again next Sunday? Was she only temporarily worthy of a healing?
It must once again be pointed out that there is a significant number of Christians that will not admit to miraculous healings in this day and age, particularly cessationists. But to take a reasonable look at this question, it must be stressed that all healings – whether through medicine or by miracle – are temporary. The people whom Jesus healed, the ones he raised from the dead, they are all now dead. If God does heal miraculously, it is not to solve all of that person’s earthly woes forever. Rather, it is to make some point toward a more permanent purpose.
This may best be illustrated by a story from Jesus’ ministry. In this story, Jesus was teaching when suddenly he was interrupted by a group of people who had brought their paralyzed friend before him. The story says:
“And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.” And behold, some of the scribes said to themselves, “This man is blaspheming.” But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts? For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he then said to the paralytic—“Rise, pick up your bed and go home.” And he rose and went home. When the crowds saw it, they were afraid, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to men.”
Note that this mans search for healing ultimately brought him salvation; a far more permanent solution to his worldly woes. Moreover, Christ’s primary concern was not for his healing but rather for his forgiveness. He only healed the man as a response to the doubts of others.
A counter-example of this would be the Apostle Paul who fervently prayed that God remove some problem in his life that he described as “a thorn in the flesh.” God denied him, responding “my grace is sufficient.”
What God was saying here is that the grace he gave Paul which led to salvation was more than compensatory for any temporary unpleasantness he might experience in his life on earth. So Paul concludes, "For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong."
5 - How did Noah fit the millions and millions of species of animals on this planet into his ark? It doesn't take a mathematical genius to realize the physical impossibility of this.
This question, like many in this list, trades on a particularly narrow reading of the Flood passage that is by no means agreed upon by all Christians. However, Noah would not have had to fit every species of animal that currently exists onto the ark in order for the story to still have veracity. He would only need to fit as many animals as it would take to reproduce, adapt, and expand into the full variety of species that now exists on the planet.
The measurements of the ark (Genesis 6:15) translate to a volume of around 400,000 cubic meters, which is the equivalent to about 570 modern railway boxcars. The number of animals would be two or seven of each species, as the Bible tells us that Noah had to take seven pairs of every ceremonially "clean" animal, specifically noting birds, and one pair of every other type (Genesis 7:2).
Matthew Slick from CARM gives a large estimate of 145,400 animals, including mammals, reptiles, birds, and amphibians - all of which needing shelter from the flood. He suggests the ark would need to contain 7,400 mammals, 120,400 birds, 12,600 reptiles, and 5,000 amphibians. The average (air-breathing) mammal is slightly smaller than a cat, but in order to allow for those outside of the average, these calculations will say that it is actually the size of a sheep. A double-decker railway boxcar can hold 240 sheep, meaning that the 7,400 mammals will take up 31 boxcars. Since most birds, reptiles and amphibians are much smaller than mammals, those can count as half the size of a sheep, meaning a boxcar can hold 480. The total 138,000 animals remaining take up 288 box cars. That means 319 of the 570 boxcars have been used. Only 56 per cent of the total space in the Ark, giving more than enough room for animal feed and the insects that were not factored into the initial calculation.
Other Christians site textual and geological evidence to argue that the flood was localized rather than world-wide.