It never fails that on Halloween a few people throw religious tracts in with the candy they are handing out. Don’t worry – I’m not offended at all. Heck – you’re giving my kids free candy – who am I to complain?
Last year hubby and I tried to grab them before the kids did but this year I didn’t make such a big effort and missed a couple. Funny thing. Found them on the couch later – I’m quite sure they were left unread by my kids who were intent on attaining a sugar high experienced at a level that has never been reached by any human being before. Huh – guess kids like to eat candy Halloween night instead of reading. Go figure.
But it got me to thinking what I would say to my little guys if they actually read every word in that tract. Here’s how it would go:
All those things that they seem so sure about in that tract, how do they know any of it?
They say it says all this in the Bible.
How would the writers of the Bible know any of those things are true?
They say God talked to them.
Do they have any way of proving God spoke to them or are we just supposed to take their word for that? They are making some pretty huge claims with major consequences so you should expect that they can back that up with reasonable proof.
No – they can’t back it up. God’s invisible and they don’t have any proof that he talked to them.
Well – what if you asked a scientist to back up what they are saying. Can they show you how they arrived at their answer?
Yes. They spend a lot of time showing how they arrived at their conclusion.
Well – make that the focus when anyone tells you they know something about the world (or the afterlife). If you can trust the method they used to get their answer then you can at least tentatively trust what they say – unless evidence comes along later to show that their initial conclusion was mistaken. And if they are after truth, then they will correct any mistakes that are made – whether it’s in the answers or the methodology itself. If they don’t have a reasonable method of discovering truth that involves a method you can trust then you don’t need to take any of their answers seriously. And in the case of religion many people believe it out of fear of punishment and you should never trust an argument that tries to use fear to convince you of something. Fear won’t get you to the right answer, only a desire to understand the world as it is will.
Ok – mom. Can I go eat more candy now?
Sure kid – I’ll see you on the other side of the sugar coma!
I’m sure there might be more to the conversation and I have had more in-depth conversations with my older daughter, but that’s where I would start.
But it also got me to thinking about one of my first doubts as a Christian (way before my deconversion). I wondered why God used Christians to spread his message if everyone’s eternal destinies were on the line. Christians screw up all the time and have no trouble admitting that. We’re sinners after all. And sharing the gospel was one thing we often messed up on. Even the people who made a point to be really good at it would still fail to share the gospel with people. And that doesn’t even take into account all the people that we just wouldn’t rub shoulders with in the first place. So if the most important decision of people’s lives is on the line – why would God use a method that is sure to fail in most instances?
Wait! I know the answer! I was a fundy Christian for 20 years after all. God knows who will be open to the gospel and will guide us to those people, so no worries. God’s in control after all, not us. Well – then you need to question your God’s wonderful plan for all those people who will burn eternally. His omnipotence seems to have failed Him. I know, I know .. we have freewill. Here’s a post I have up about freewill if you want to explore that topic more.
I thought of all this as I looked at the tract from my kids’ Halloween candy as it lay unopened and unread on my living room couch. Such a pitiful way for an omnipotent, omniscient, all-loving God to spread his message. Good thing it’s not true and it’s just a sad little piece of paper that got tossed aside as my kids gorged on candy. I feel bad for the person who put it in there. They thought eternal souls were on the line as they placed that in there. They thought they might be saving some little child from burning in an eternal torture chamber. I feel bad that they are trapped in a religion that sees the world this way. The guilt, the fear, the tears over lost souls. I wish I could free them from that prison. And again I’m reminded why my blog is here. Not to win a philosophical battle but because I want to be here for people who can see life outside the prison of religion but need to know that others have broken free ahead of them and are enjoying the sunshine and fresh air outside the bars.