Questions for the religious

Here are a few questions that religious persons might ask themselves and try to answer honestly:

  • When a speaker concludes a lecture concerning facts or opinions, he or she usually accepts and answers questions from the audience. Why does your preacher not do this after sermons?
  • Most degreed preachers have studied Higher Criticism, which explores the sources, varying texts, authorship and other objective aspects of the scriptures. Why do preachers’ sermons never share this information with you?
  • When a person takes daily medication for a chronic illness, does he or she say grace? If so, is it for the “god-given” illness or for the man-made medication?
  • When relatively well-to-do Americans say grace before a meal, why do they not finish the invocation with “… and thanks for giving this bounty to us, instead of to people who really need it”?
  • A passenger plane struck a flock of geese and lost power in both engines, but landed safely in the Hudson river with no injuries or loss of life. Was this a miracle, or instead was the pilot a hero? Or was it a miracle that the pilot was a hero? If it was a miracle, how do you explain the presence of the geese?
  • In any disaster, why is it a miracle when all are saved, while it is not a miracle when none are saved, even though that might be far more remarkable?
  • It is sometimes considered a miracle when just one person survives a disaster; what is the most miraculous ratio of survivors to victims?
  • Why were doctors not accused of “playing god” when they tried to save Terry Schiavo’s life when she collapsed of natural causes, but were accused of it when they let nature takes its course?
  • When you are in a deep dreamless sleep, where is your “soul”, and what is it doing? How is this different from death?
  • When you were born, you were the end-point (so far) of a 3 billion year chain of biological development bringing together material and properties from innumerable ancestors, starting with the very first creatures. When, exactly, did your existence begin? That is, when did you become “you”?
  • When you are born, you become detached from your placenta, which developed from the same ovum that became you, and is genetically identical to you. Is it a sin to destroy that placenta?
  • Since you had no beliefs or faith when you were born, you were born an atheist. At some age you were convinced otherwise. Up to that point, were you immoral or evil? What about persons who simply remain atheists as they grow up?
  • Why is it that persons who have a religious background are more likely than atheists to believe in astrology, “new age” ideas, alternative medicine, ghosts, and other superstitions?
  • And finally: Estimates vary, but perhaps 10% of the population are atheists, no doubt including many of your neighbors. Can you tell by their appearance or behavior who the atheists are?
  • Bonus! Many religious people believe that atheists are by nature immoral. Milton Friedman and Friedrich von Hayek, influential proponents of free-market capitalism, were atheists. Is free-market capitalism one of their immoral beliefs?
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