Why The Gods Can’t Lose

  • For a woman in Alabama concerned about family members who had left for the beach during a thunderstorm, turning to God in prayer while she stood in the kitchen seemed the right thing to do. Lighting suddenly exploded through the kitchen, knocking her to the floor. Her response? “I’m blessed to be alive.” [ source ]
  • After millions prayed for 13 miners trapped in a West Virginia mine, breaking news revealed that 12 of the miners were alive! Millions rejoiced and chat boards all around the nation praised God for demonstrating his power and mercy. Then an update arrive. 12 miners were dead. Christian reaction? Even one saved life is a miracle. [ source ]
  • In Wisconsin, the diabetic daughter of a god-fearing couple began to grow weak. “Call more people to help pray” the father said in complete obedience to James 5:14-15. You can’t blame them. The biblical mandate comes with a clear promise. “And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up.” She died. Their response? Unknown after being convicted of man-slaughter. [ source ]
  • The same biblical mandate was evidently invoked in New Mexico by the husband of a woman who was giving birth to twins. When one twin began struggling to breathe, church members were called to pray over the child. The child died. The parents’ response? Police quoted them as saying the child’s death was “God’s will”, in clear contradiction to the biblical promise. [ source ]
  • Heart problems are something that are not easily influence by the placebo effect, so Christians were hoping to see some clear evidence of the efficacy of prayer after 1.7 million prayers went out for 604 heart patients. The result? Patients who knowingly received prayers developed more post-surgery complications than did patients who unknowingly received prayers—and patients who were prayed for did no better than patients who weren’t prayed for. In fact, patients who received prayers without their knowledge ended up with more major complications than did patients who received no prayers at all. Christians’ response? Most of them don’t even blink an eye. Their faith is doubt-proof, and the facts have no relevance. [ source ]

Some Christians claim that Jehovah cannot be tested against the possibility of other gods or no gods. Not true.

1 Kings 18:20-40

So Ahab sent to all the Israelites, and assembled the prophets at Mount Carmel. Elijah then came near to all the people, and said, ‘How long will you go limping with two different opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.’ The people did not answer him a word. Then Elijah said to the people, ‘I, even I only, am left a prophet of the Lord; but Baal’s prophets number four hundred and fifty. Let two bulls be given to us; let them choose one bull for themselves, cut it in pieces, and lay it on the wood, but put no fire to it; I will prepare the other bull and lay it on the wood, but put no fire to it. Then you call on the name of your god and I will call on the name of the Lord; the god who answers by fire is indeed God.’ All the people answered, ‘Well spoken!’ Then Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, ‘Choose for yourselves one bull and prepare it first, for you are many; then call on the name of your god, but put no fire to it.’ So they took the bull that was given them, prepared it, and called on the name of Baal from morning until noon, crying, ‘O Baal, answer us!’ But there was no voice, and no answer. They limped about the altar that they had made. At noon Elijah mocked them, saying, ‘Cry aloud! Surely he is a god; either he is meditating, or he has wandered away, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened.’ Then they cried aloud and, as was their custom, they cut themselves with swords and lances until the blood gushed out over them. As midday passed, they raved on until the time of the offering of the oblation, but there was no voice, no answer, and no response.

Then Elijah said to all the people, ‘Come closer to me’; and all the people came closer to him. First he repaired the altar of the Lord that had been thrown down; Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, to whom the word of the Lord came, saying, ‘Israel shall be your name’; with the stones he built an altar in the name of the Lord. Then he made a trench around the altar, large enough to contain two measures of seed. Next he put the wood in order, cut the bull in pieces, and laid it on the wood. He said, ‘Fill four jars with water and pour it on the burnt-offering and on the wood.’ Then he said, ‘Do it a second time’; and they did it a second time. Again he said, ‘Do it a third time’; and they did it a third time, so that the water ran all round the altar, and filled the trench also with water.

At the time of the offering of the oblation, the prophet Elijah came near and said, ‘O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that you are God in Israel, that I am your servant, and that I have done all these things at your bidding. Answer me, O Lord, answer me, so that this people may know that you, O Lord, are God, and that you have turned their hearts back.’ Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt-offering, the wood, the stones, and the dust, and even licked up the water that was in the trench. When all the people saw it, they fell on their faces and said, ‘The Lord indeed is God; the Lord indeed is God.’ Elijah said to them, ‘Seize the prophets of Baal; do not let one of them escape.’ Then they seized them; and Elijah brought them down to the Wadi Kishon, and killed them there.

Do you think the excuses Christians now give for a very silent Jehovah are convincing? Do you think that non-believers are actually misquoting the promises of answered prayer in the bible that are daily broken? If you do, then you have the type of faith necessary to ignore any evidence that would bring into question all other claims in the bible.

You are indeed a genuine Christian.


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7 thoughts on “Why The Gods Can’t Lose

  1. Andrew says:

    Excellent post.

    I’m a recently deconverted Christian for many of the same reasons you stopped believing. I started “backsliding” due to similar frustrations and questions, and one day the switch in my head flipped when I realized that my faith was no better than a cultist’s if there were no conditions under which I would change my mind.

    Religion has always had to retract its position due to science and secular values. Ok, fine, the earth really revolves around the Sun. Okay, fine, the earth really is billions of years old. Okay, fine, curiosity and reasoning are actually good things. Ok fine, women are equal with men and it’s okay for them to speak their opinions (I Cor. 14:35). Many Christians in the US think that Islam is violent, but only a few centuries back Christians were just as violent, and the Age of Reason was what tempered it.

    I do feel that the different and numerous claims to God’s truth are better evidence of his nonexistence than unanswered prayers are, though. A rough and somewhat bad analogy is a child’s request being rejected by the parent, which isn’t unreasonable, What proves the parent is imaginary is if there are a thousand different mutually exclusive descriptions of the relationship, and if the relationship is not really perceivable but requires faith.

    I’ve recently stumbled on your blog, and I have thoroughly enjoyed reading it. I especially like “Thing Early, Things Late” although I’m sure there’s plenty of great posts I have yet to read.

    • Thanks, Andrew.

      It’s good to have you on this side of rationality.

      I definitely agree with you that addressing the illogicality of biblical concepts is much more powerful and conclusive to the rationally-minded.
      However, rationality is actually consciously denigrated by theists, and so to appeal to the more salient and common-sensical failures of biblical promises is a good way to get their initial attention.

      I hope to see more of your comments. Cheers!

  2. ichabod says:

    Hi Phil;

    I feel much the same way you do about religion. I used to be a Christian at one time and life basically turned me away.

    However, there are a few metaphors which I still think are valid. From the thousand plus pages in the bible there are very few, but the few that are there seem to carry the weight of truth.

    In respect to prayer, I don’t there are many people in this life who have tasted the fear of impending death without resorting to prayer as a last resort,. if there is time of course.

    The question is to who or what is the prayer meant to be heard by?

    I don’t know. I do know, that something within me responds when I am pushed to my limits and pray to that something within me through my mind. Whatever is hanging over my head seems to disappear.

    It happens often enough. I have no love or respect for most if not all organized religions, yet have come across a few individuals in my travels who appear to achieved something in respect to contentment through the faith they have.

    I agree reason is integral, even to faith as there can be no faith without reason. It has to make sense to be believable, at least to my mind.

    If there is no reasonable answer, then we may speculate and if we believe our speculations, that is faith.

    • Hi Ichabod,

      Your points were quite coherent and important to make. Let me respond to 3 of your points.

      1. The bible can be used as metaphor to the same degree that the concepts in Star Wars or Lord of the Rings can. I have no problem with the use of metaphor. However, many metaphors distort truth, and many people live their lives based on these metaphors. Why not just start with truth? Instead of over-simplifying our tendency to be selfish by positing the fall of Adam and Eve, why not look at actual human psychology? We no longer need metaphors to guide our lives. We can assess who we are and our world scientifically without the over-simplification and distortion of metaphor.

      2. Suggesting that prayer is beneficial simply because most people have a tendency to pray at some point in their lives is to give legitimacy to the notion that there is some divine ear listening to prayer, and to distract from a better response to hardships in life. Why not just accept death as a natural process and rejoice in the life you led? Why not spend more time and energy remedying a hardship rather than whimpering on your knees?

      3. Why is there any virtue in faith? What is wrong with limiting our beliefs to the level of the available evidence?
      Because our beliefs inform our response to the world around us, truer beliefs ought to produce better responses. Why would we want to distort truth with faith?

      -phil

  3. ichabod says:

    Hi Phil;

    If the above reads a little out of whack it is simply because I am tired :)

  4. ichabod says:

    Hi Phil;

    You must have been an attorney in your past life. :)

    I won’t be responding through faith but factually and to my limited intelligent.

    1) Science is not 100% perfect, although there is much to be said for it. Many of us have no concept of things like quantum physics, how genetics work and the difference between germs and viruses. Metaphors help the people understand, whether it is physics, theology or biology that is being explained, so I think metaphors come in mighty handy some times :)

    2) prayer is beneficial to the person praying, whether it works or not.. I think the act of speaking or thinking in the form of an appeal or nonsensical communication to an entity which may not exist helps the mind deal with the burdens which can cause overload. Like swearing when angry or frustrated. Prayer can be used the same way. We can ridicule prayer, but that is what separates us from the machines. Fear and stress :)

    3) i have faith in me, sometimes. :) faith isn’t a virtue. it is a hope in the unseen. I like Einsteins thoughts. I can relate to it.

    “The most beautiful emotion we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of all true art and science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead, a snuffed-out candle. To sense that behind anything that can be experienced there is something that our minds cannot grasp, whose beauty and sublimity reaches us only indirectly: this is religiousness. In this sense, and in this sense only, I am a devoutly religious man.”

    • I’d like to think my only client is truth. ;)

      1. As I mentioned, I have no problem with the use of some metaphors, and encourage their use in many cases. There are some, however, that over-simplify or distort truth. I see only negative results from employing metaphors such as “sin”.

      2. Glasses are a pretty good fix for myopia. However, that is to ignore the superior option of lasik surgery. Some doctors prescribe placebos when no other cure is available. However, what would you think about a doctor who prescribed a placebo when there was an available and effective treatment? Superior to prayer is to acknowledge the reality of the situation and to respond accordingly rather than reaching out to imaginary saviors.

      3. A sense of awe is far from faith. And faith (πιστις) is not hope (Ελπίδα)—it is belief (that trespasses onto the property of the unsubstantiated). Theists often muddle these concepts. Ask 10 christians to elaborate on Hebrews 11:1, and you might end up with 10 incompatible answers. It seems that “faith” is often used as an ephemeral concept that essentially means warm and fuzzy emotions.

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