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Answering "Top 50 Questions Christians Can't Answer" (6 through 10)

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This article continues a series examining R.E. Pucket's article "Top 50 Questions Christians Can't Answer".

Part 1 may be found here.

Part 3 may be found here.

Part 4 may be found here.

Part 5 may be found here.

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.

6 - If Noah did fit all of these species on the ark for forty days and forty nights, how did the penguins make it from Mt. Ararat to the Antarctic? How did the koala bears make it to Australia with no eucalyptus to eat along the way?
6 - If Noah did fit all of these species on the ark for forty days and forty nights, how did the penguins make it from Mt. Ararat to the Antarctic? How did the koala bears make it to Australia with no eucalyptus to eat along the way? 'Noah and His Ark' by Charles Willson Peale, 1819 wikimedia commons

6 - If Noah did fit all of these species on the ark for forty days and forty nights, how did the penguins make it from Mt. Ararat to the Antarctic? How did the koala bears make it to Australia with no eucalyptus to eat along the way?

Assuming a relatively small population of people and animals began to breed and expand from a particular area of the planet, the simple laws of natural selection tell us that they would tend to change over generations to adapt to their new environment. Oddly, this is something upon which almost everyone - Christians and Atheists, Creationists and Evolutionists - agree: the current population of wildlife that we see around the planet is the result of gradual migration and speciation of a smaller population from a particular location; probably in the area of North Africa.

7 - Why do innocent children have to suffer with terminal diseases such as cancer? What part of 'God's plan' is this exactly?
7 - Why do innocent children have to suffer with terminal diseases such as cancer? What part of 'God's plan' is this exactly? Ilia Yefimovich/Getty Images

7 - Why do innocent children have to suffer with terminal diseases such as cancer? What part of 'God's plan' is this exactly?

Giving a blanket answer that explains the rationale behind every particular instance of suffering may not be possible, so let’s examine the question itself: why is the suffering and death of children any more objectionable than the suffering and death of adults? There are two possibilities: either the question assumes that children do not “deserve” to suffer because they are “innocent”, or it assumes that there is some value in living a “full life” which these children are robbed of by their early demise.
The first objection assumes some kind of karmic system of reward and punishment based on a person’s innocence or guilt. This is not the view of the Bible. Paul says: “I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 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.” Suffering, if it leads to some ultimate existential fulfillment, is not necessarily a bad thing. Nor is comfort, if it gives no purpose or fulfillment, a good thing.
If it is the second objection, then one would have to question which is the optimal age at which a person’s death is justified? When have they achieved their purpose or meaning so that they may pass away without complaint? On the Christian worldview, it is entirely possible that this child has achieved some kind of purpose or fulfillment at an early age. Their earthly purpose being accomplished, they go to an eternal reward, and are thus spared an entire lifetime of earthly difficulties.
It should be pointed out that Christianity is arguably the ONLY system of belief that provides comfort and hope in the suffering of a child. In order for the objection to hold water, one would have to explain on the Christian worldview how the suffering of a child is a problem.

8 - How is it that the bible explains the earth to be 6,000 to 8,000 years old when we know that dinosaur bones are at least 65 million years old? This isn't the only example of our planet's age by any means, either.
8 - How is it that the bible explains the earth to be 6,000 to 8,000 years old when we know that dinosaur bones are at least 65 million years old? This isn't the only example of our planet's age by any means, either. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

8 - How is it that the bible explains the earth to be 6,000 to 8,000 years old when we know that dinosaur bones are at least 65 million years old? This isn't the only example of our planet's age by any means, either.

This is not a claim the Bible makes. The concept that the earth is 6,000 years old was a rough calculation made in early centuries based on the genealogical information given in the Bible. As stated in a previous answer, Bible scholars (both Christian and Jewish) are not in agreement about the time-spans in the early chapters of Genesis, nor are genealogies an accurate way of determining spans of time.
In addition to this, the accuracy of fossil dating is somewhat suspect. Fossils are generally dated based on how far down they are in the sedimentary layers. This is based on the broad assumption of the rate at which sedimentary layers are laid down, something which cannot be conclusively proven. There are a number of Christian scholars who argue that a world-wide deluge such as described in Genesis would cause sedimentary layers and fossilized animal and plant life to accumulate at an extremely rapid rate, making fossil dating somewhat deceptive. Given the fact that geological and fossil dating AND the epochs within the Bible are difficult to accurately date, this objection is tenuous at best.

9 - Why can't the all-powerful God forgive someone of their sins after they die?
9 - Why can't the all-powerful God forgive someone of their sins after they die? Robertus Pudyanto/Getty Images

9 - Why can't the all-powerful God forgive someone of their sins after they die?

Pucket provides the following example to clarify this question:

"A Christian man that is seemingly on God's good list makes a stupid decision and decides to drink a little too much at the fish fry. On his way home he crashes into a mini-van killing a mother, her two children and his self. This man led a very faithful life and made one stupid, yet grave mistake. If this man did not ask for forgiveness of his sins before the electrical activity in his brain ceased, then God will judge him and send him to hell to burn for eternity."

This is not an idea that the majority of protestant Christianity embraces.  The Bible indicates that when a person repents and embraces Christ, all of their sins, past, present, and future are forgiven them. It is not necessary (nor possible) to repent of every individual sin in order to receive God’s grace and forgiveness. All one must do is to believe that Christ took the penalty for all sins upon himself and imputed his righteousness to all who believe in him.

This is supported by passages like these:

John 6:37 ESV

"All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out."


John 5:24 ESV

"Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life."

Romans 11:29 ESV

"For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable."

Romans 8:34 ESV

"Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us."

Ephesians 1:13 ESV

"In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit,"

Hebrews 10:14 ESV
 

"For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified."


Psalm 34:22 ESV


"The Lord redeems the life of his servants; none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned."

 

10 - God wants everyone to worship and follow him and, if they don't, they burn in hell for all eternity. What does this type of attitude say about his character? By definition, he would be described as a tyrant.
10 - God wants everyone to worship and follow him and, if they don't, they burn in hell for all eternity. What does this type of attitude say about his character? By definition, he would be described as a tyrant. Wikimedia Commons

10 - God wants everyone to worship and follow him and, if they don't, they burn in hell for all eternity. What does this type of attitude say about his character? By definition, he would be described as a tyrant.

What this says about God’s character is that it is perfect. Anything less than perfection cannot abide in God’s presence.
If humans created God, he would exist to meet their needs and desires. However, this is not the Christian claim.  In fact, if Christianity were a made-up religion, one wonders why they would come up the concept of hell at all. Most other religions build in an escape clause. Eastern religion plead reincarnation giving the individual essentially unlimited chances to get it right. The hell that Mormons espouse is a paradise compared to earthly life.

The Christian claim is that God created humans. In the act of creating humans, God necessarily gave them a reason for existing.  If humans freely choose to rebel against the purpose for which they are created, they reap the consequences. If they abandon their Creator, their Creator must let them go, to their own destruction.
It would be tyrannical for God to give people no choice. However, choices have consequences. Just as the free act of committing suicide results in the consequence of death, the free act of rejecting God results in the consequence of eternal separation from this same God.

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