Monday, December 17, 2012

Two More Questions for Christians

One of the interesting things about studying beliefs of others is that you can think of things those others never would. For example, both Christians and atheists often notice things in Islam that Muslims never would (and might not want to).

So here are two seemingly obscure, but actually meaningful questions about the nature of the Christian Bible and God that a Christian might not have thought of.  As always, I'm not asking to be a smart-aleck, but rather because I'm curious and don't understand; and these are exactly the questions I would be asking if I were Christian in order to strengthen my faith.

#1) God's understanding of our intentions and language

a) A gentleman in Georgia made up his own language, and prays in it. (This is for real - in this article, about halfway down.) Assuming an omnipotent God, then God understands the made-up language, and knows what Georgia guy is thinking anyway, so the made-up language doesn't matter.

b) Now imagine that Georgia guy doesn't even make up a language, he just babbles nonsense syllables one morning after breakfast, and doesn't even think about prayer. An hour later, he says, "I just decided that I was praying when I was babbling. God is omnipotent, so he knows there's some language where the sounds I made mean something."  (Similar question asked here.)

c) What if someone in the second century after Christ did the same thing as Georgia guy - they babbled a bunch of syllables and hadn't intended them to mean anything at the time. Except by coincidence, those syllables ended up being the same was the Lord's prayer in modern English. The problem is that English did not exist yet, so it really would have been babbling. See the issue? If the guy in 1b. above wasn't really praying, it's possible (as he said to God) that his babbling could eventually be a language, and of course God is omnipotent and knows this. Do you (addressing Christian readers) believe that this is what speaking in tongues is, or is that something else?

#2) Whether all (important) information is in the Bible. Many Christians believe that the Bible is inerrant; many also believe that all the important information we need to know about the world, or at least the most important information, is included in the Bible.

a) It sure seems like the way to find out the truth about the world is to directly study things in the world, rather than relying on a book which has been edited and translated multiple times from the very beginning, by politically-oriented organizations. If studying the world is dangerous, why is the information coming into your mind from the Bible protected? Can't there have been deception over the years in all that editing? Is the act of reading a certain book somehow protected from worldly deception, as if there's a tunnel from the book to your eyes but not for anything else in the world?

b) How can we explain the difficulty of understanding all this information in the Bible? People have had trouble understanding it over the centuries, judging by the very, very different interpretations that have led to things that modern Christians find morally disgusting. We also keep finding out seemingly important things not from the Bible (for example, democracy and medicine).

c) If directly studying the world is no good, and everything we need to know (or at least a lot more than we already understand) is in the Bible, how can we get to this information more quickly? Is there an algorithm someone can ever figure out to decompress Scripture like a ZIP file? I'm serious - if there's a way to make the world better here, "that's a silly question" or "that's not how we do it" doesn't seem like a good answer.

If you don't care about these things, that's fine.  But if a Christian doesn't actually care about their beliefs, this is exactly how they would behave.

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