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40 Questions to Ask Christians

Thomas Swan has a PhD in experimental psychology. He specializes in the cognitive science of religion.

Burst their bubble by asking a difficult question.

Burst their bubble by asking a difficult question.

Asking Christians Difficult Questions

When atheists engage in debates with Christians, the two sides invariably exchange insults before becoming even more militant than they previously were. Neither party intends to strengthen the resolve of the other, although both sides usually manage to sooth their egos as part of the process.

Asking a difficult question can achieve better results because it taps into the Christian's desire to share the wisdom they perceive themselves to have. Any reflex for angry disagreement is quashed and replaced by an obligation to think their answer through.

Ultimately, thought is what an atheist should be trying to elicit. By asking the right questions, one can determine the direction that such thought takes (i.e., employing the Socratic method).

40 Questions for Christians

Regarding World Religion:

If a hundred different religions have to be wrong for yours to be right, does this show that people from all over the world like to invent gods that don’t exist?

If your parents had belonged to a different religion, do you think you would belong to that religion too?

If people from the five major religions are told conflicting information by their respective gods, should any of them be believed?

Regarding Communication with God:

How can you tell the voice of God from a voice in your head?

How can you tell the voice of God from the voice of the Devil?

Would you find it easier to kill someone if you believed God supported you in the act?

If God told you to kill an atheist, would you?

Does God really speak to you?

Does God really speak to you?

Regarding Morality:

When an atheist is kind and charitable out of the kindness of his heart, is his behavior more or less commendable than a religious man who does it because God instructed him to?

If you are against the Crusades and the Inquisition, would you have been burned alive as a heretic during those events?

If your interpretation of a holy book causes you to condemn your ancestors for having a different interpretation, will your descendants condemn you in the same way?

Rape wasn't always a crime in the Middle East two thousand years ago. Is that why `do not rape’ is not part of the Ten Commandments?

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Do animals need `god-given' morality to understand how to care for their young, co-operate within a pack, or feel anguish at the loss of a companion? Why do we?

If an organized religion requires a civilization in which to spread, how could this civilization exist without first having a moral code to make it civil?

Regarding the Characteristics of God:

An all-knowing God can read your mind, so why does he require you to demonstrate your faith by worshiping him?

If God is all-knowing, why do holy books describe him as surprised or angered by the actions of humans? He should have known what was going to happen, right?

An all-knowing God knows who will ultimately reject him. Why does God create people who he knows will end up in hell?

If God is all-knowing, then why did he make humans, knowing that he’d eventually have to send Jesus to his death?

Why did a supposedly omnipotent God take six days to create the universe, and why did he require rest on the seventh day?

Is omnipotence necessary to create our universe when a larger, denser universe would have required more power?

The Bible is a source of many questions.

The Bible is a source of many questions.

Regarding the Bible:

Why are Churches filled with riches when Jesus asked his followers to give their wealth away?

While in the desert, Jesus rejected the temptations of the Devil. He didn't censor or kill the Devil, so why are Christians so in favor of censoring or condemning many Earthly temptations?

Given that the story of Noah’s Ark was copied almost word-for-word from the much older Sumerian Epic of Atrahasis, does this mean that our true ruler is the supreme sky god, Anu?

Regarding Religious Conversion:

If your desire is to convert atheists so that they become more like you, do you think that you’re currently better than them?

If religious people don’t respect their children’s right to pick their own religion, how can society expect religious people to respect anyone’s right to freedom of religion?

If missionaries from your religion should be sent to convert people in other countries, should missionaries from other religions be sent to your country for the same reason?

If children are likely to believe in Santa Claus and fairies, does this explain why religion has been taught to children for thousands of years?

When preachers and prophets claim to be special messengers of God, they often receive special benefits from their followers. Does this ever cause you to doubt their intentions?

Regarding Miracles:

When you declare a miracle, does this mean you understand everything that is possible in nature?

If a woman was cured of cancer by means unknown to us, and everyone declared it a miracle, would the chance of scientifically replicating this cure be more or less likely?

If humans declared fire to be a miracle thousands of years ago, would we still be huddling together in caves while we wait for God to throw another lightning bolt into the forest?

If God gave a man cancer, and the Devil cured him to subvert God’s plan, how would you know it wasn't a divine miracle? What if he was an unkind, atheist, homosexual?

I'm sorry ET, but you're going to burn in hell.

I'm sorry ET, but you're going to burn in hell.

Regarding Hell:

Should an instruction to convert to your religion upon the threat of eternal torture in hell be met with anything other than hostility?

Can a mass murderer go to heaven for accepting your religion, while a kind doctor goes to hell for not?

Did the mass murdering Crusaders and Inquisitors make it into the Christian heaven?

How can we know what is right when we don’t know for sure who makes it into heaven and hell?

If aliens exist on several worlds that have never heard of your god, will they all be going to hell when they die?

The Promises of Religion:

If someone promised you eternal life, the protection of a loving super being, a feeling of moral righteousness, a purpose for living, answers to all the big questions, and a rule book for achieving the pinnacle of human potential, all in exchange for having faith in something that wasn't proven, would you be suspicious?

If someone promised to give you a billion dollars after ten years but only if you worshiped them until that time, would you believe them? If someone promised you eternal life upon death, but only if you spent your life worshiping a god, would you believe them?

Why does religion appeal more to poor, weak, vulnerable, young, ill, depressed, and ostracized people? Could religious promises be more of a temptation to these people?

More Quickfire Questions From Another Atheist

The Socratic Method

Ultimately, many of these questions will spur further questioning that targets the holes or contradictions in the answers Christians provide. This form of dialogue, in which a conciliatory questioner tries to elicit thought and guide a person to a rational conclusion is sometimes called "The Socratic Method."

The Socratic method may be necessary if Christians respond with an unsupported claim or sidestep the point of the question in order to dismiss it as silly or irrelevant.

For example, asking a Christian if they would "kill someone if God asked them to" often gets the response "God would never ask me to kill someone." In this case, it may be worth taking a step back and asking a less personal question, such as: "Has God ever asked anyone to kill another person, such as in the Bible?" If the answer is that he has (which would be consistent with scripture), the original question can be posed again, with the Christian being less likely to deny the premise this time.

Thank you for reading this list of 40 questions. I hope you put them to Christians! Please leave a comment to let me know what they say (or answer them yourself) or what other questions you think could be asked.

© 2013 Thomas Swan

Comments

James Preston on March 19, 2020:

Instead of arguing, let's look at the proof and evidence.

Dead Sea Scrolls - Proof that the old testament was written around 600 BC and those were written from copies of copies during that time.

Old testament prophecies of Jesus – Isaiah 53 and Psalms 22

Chariot Wheels found at bottom of Red Sea where God closed up the path after Moses and his people crossed. Exodus 15:19

Noah’s Ark found at the base of Mount Ararat. Like Moses said in Genesis 8:4.

It was much higher but it rested on a glacier that eventually over time slid down the mountain.

It’s the only giant ancient ship ever found on a mountain. It’s proof that when the earth was flooded, the people in this ship were the only ones to survive.

Ark of the Covenant found by Ron Wyatt.

Sodom and Gomorrah found.

Cornelius Tacitus – Roman Senator and secular historian (55/56–c. 118 C.E.)

Cornelius wrote this in his work titled Annals written around 116-117 C.E.

“[N]either human effort nor the emperor’s generosity nor the placating of the gods ended the scandalous belief that the fire had been ordered [by Nero]. Therefore, to put down the rumor, Nero substituted as culprits and punished in the most unusual ways those hated for their shameful acts … whom the crowd called “Chrestians.” The founder of this name, Christ [Christus in Latin], had been executed in the reign of Tiberius by the procurator Pontius Pilate … Suppressed for a time, the deadly superstition erupted again not only in Judea, the origin of this evil, but also in the city [Rome], where all things horrible and shameful from everywhere come together and become popular.”

Flavius Josephus- not a Christian born 37/38 AD — died 100 AD.

Josephus who wrote historical views for Rome, wrote this:

“. . . about that time there was Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man; for he was a doer of wonderful works, and a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure: for that Christ drew over many even from the Gentiles; whom when Pilate had crucified, those who at first had loved him did not leave off to preach concerning him; for he appeared to them the third day alive again, as the divine prophets had testified and spoke these and other wonderful things concerning him.”

Witnesses that saw Jesus after His resurrection.

The twelve apostles, and 500 people.

After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. 1 Corinthians 15:6

Evidence of new testament written not long after the resurrection of Jesus:

Gospel of John. Earliest manuscript found. Written around 18-100 AD. But it was written from a copy of a copy, and not the original manuscript.

Many other manuscripts of the new testament have been found written around that timeframe.

Proof that the new testament was written in the same time period after Jesus’ death and resurrection.

More proof?

At the tomb of Jesus, you can see the piece of iron that was placed there in the stone to keep it from moving backwards. It is broken off. Broken by the angel that moved back the stone and Jesus walked out.

More proof?

Our bodies are made up of DNA code, more advanced and more complicated than the most sophisticated computer software programs of today.

Building blocks create the DNA and then there are little machines in our bodies that go back and forth over the code ensuring that it is all in the correct order.

More proof?

Research Dr. Masaru Emoto and Water Consciousness where he shows the results for water crystals affected by consciousness.

God is real. The evidence is all around us.

Apostle Paul, who was crucifying Christians, saw the resurrected Jesus on his way to Damascus and became a Christian himself, said this:

For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:

Romans 1:20

Again, don’t risk your eternity on the opinions of others. Do your own research.

Proof: Jesus lived.

Proof: Jesus died.

Proof: Jesus rose on the third day.

Proof: Many saw Jesus after His resurrection.

With all the precision and beauty in the world around us, including the fact that the universe is expanding, God is showing us more and more of His handywork.

If you still doubt after all the evidence before you, I would suggest praying to Him and asking for answers in His word. Pray and read the bible.

Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.

Jeremiah 33:3

Sarah Litchney from United States on February 26, 2020:

It seems you started anger in the comments below. I think one of your questions is the most critical:

Why does religion appeal more to poor, weak, vulnerable, young, ill, depressed, and ostracized people? Could religious promises be more of a temptation to these people?

It is true that from looking at the people in south and central america, most people have a devote Christian belief. It is because these are institutions mostly used to fill people's minds and control their thoughts. There is no better way to control people than occupy them with church and ceremonies. In this way, they do apply to those that need faith the most. I worry most about the poorest of the poor because they are the ones that are subject to this robbery. I would like to contend that religion does more harm than good in most countries. You only need to look at the violence against women in most religious countries. I would like religious folks to address these questions in a factual manner.

Ed on February 25, 2020:

As a commited Christian I would love to answer these but rather than spend all that time I would simply ask have you read, studied, and understood the bible, all the answers to these questions are stored in what is a brilliantly interesting book that might just change your world.

BTW God believes in you, even if you don't believe in Him.

Tony on February 02, 2020:

Thomas Swan

Some more questions.

And suggestions for answers.

Q. Are you really as stupid as your questions imply?

A. Yes. Otherwise you wouldn't be asking.

Q. Is it possible to be more stupid than your questions

imply?

A. No. Not within the realms of possibility, and the probability

is completely out of the question because there is none.

Q. Do you kid yourself as much as the questions imply?

A. Yes. That's self evident.

Q. Are you likely to have delusions of grandeur?

A. Yes. You must have.

Q. Do you have nightmares about your feeble mindedness?

A. No. If I did I wouldn't ask the questions.

Q. Do you think it's possible to be polite when answering

stupid questions.

A. NO!

Q. Do you believe that there are many levels of omnipotence.

A. Yes.In the same way that one is more than one or less than

one.

Tony on February 02, 2020:

Thomas Swan.

Your ignorance is only exceeded by your arrogance .

So!

There is absolute proof of the existence of God.

Cretins have a life as well.

Gosh!

I wish I could create a Universe out of nothing.

Sorry?

What's that you say?

Oh, I see.

There was a "big bang", ( these days we might say Hoo Haa),

or "much ado about nothing".

Or should I say much ado from nothing.

And to think..............

It could all have been resolved with 40 questions.

Silly me.

But why ask Christians any questions at all?

Why not Hindus about Krishna?

Taoists about Lao Tsu?

Buddhists about Buddha?

Yahweh?

Elohim?

El-Shaddai?,

Jehovah,?

Etc.Etc.Etc.Etc....... ad infinitum.

Sorry about any omissions.

All of these silly people, all independently, at some point in time KNOWING something that you obviously don't.

And what's in a name?

"A rose by any other name .........etc.,etc."

Tony on February 02, 2020:

One question for Thomas Swan.

Are you for real?

Hopefully, you're only a figment of my sometimes warped imagination.

Although, the arrogance seems astoundingly real.

The ignorance however, is definitely your own.