When I was a child, many questions would enter my mind that people of faith would tell me I shouldn't worry about or should not ask. Today's atheist seems to portray the standard Christian as one who would be offended by the questions I ask, but that doesn't seem to be my experience. It seems to me that many Christians with which I am familiar would be OK with my asking them.
Before I ask them, be warned that some of you may take offense or believe this blasphemous. These questions I do not ask about the 'real God' in which you believe in your mind. I ask these questions of a hypothetical God that doesn't exist in my mind. If you choose to compare and contrast the two, and accidentally confuse them, you may get offended.
1. Why would God lay out so much evidence that goes against his existence as the Bible portrays him, that a logical person receptive to this evidence like myself would than not believe in him, and thus banish this person to hell if he truly 'loves' them?
2. Why would God, whom my mother believes in and worships, and to whom is very devoted, reward her with a 'heaven' where her son is absent, and is burning forever in a lake of hellfire? What kind of heaven is that? Does this not contradict the idea of heaven?
3. Why does the Christian God answer prayers with 'Yes', 'No', and 'Wait' with the same statistical frequency as the Muslim God, the Jewish God, and all the other gods, as well as with the same frequency as what would happen with random chance, or if you had just asked your lucky rabbit's foot? What is the point of prayer?
4. Along the same lines as question 3, why do bad things happen to Christians with the same frequency as bad things happen to Muslims, Jews, Atheists, etc? Why do good things happen with the same frequency? Shouldn't a higher frequency of good things happen to Christians than do other people? Shouldn't a higher frequency of bad things happen to non-Christians? (Are the happenings of September 11, 2001 a sign that the Muslim God wins?)
5. What is God made of? What composes that which makes up God? Is there an infinitude of Gods, each one level above the other? (These questions are just as ridiculous as those that ask what are we made of, and so on and so forth, miraculously ending with 'therefore God'). For those of you satisfied with the idea that God has always just existed, why couldn't you accept, with how you understand the time continuum, that matter has always existed? After all, the sentence 'before there was time' is nonsensical. Think about it.
6. Why, when God makes decisions to take someone you love away from you too early (in a freak accident, say), do you still feel the need to worship and praise him?
7. Why does God allow his followers to get cancer, aids, or suffer horrible deaths? Why does God allow his follower's children to be raped by pedophiles? How wise is this God that you so admire? If I were God, I wouldn't have created pedophiles in the first place. But here I am, being a Monday morning quarterback.
8. What kind of God requires you to worship and praise him? Doesn't this seem strikingly familiar to a tyrant king? I'm sure you don't believe me to be as wise or loving as your God, but if I were God, I wouldn't require you to worship and praise me. I wouldn't require you to give any money to an organization that would than use it to build a temple or sanctuary in my honor. Nor would I require your money so that you could pay for somebody's living expenses so that they could get up in front of you week to week to preach to you what they couldn't possibly know: my wishes (which would be to not waste this money in the first place). On top of that, all tax free, and thus not helping the economy in the least bit. If I were God (with my infinitesimally less wisdom than the actual God that you believe in), I would have you instead use your money and time each week for your own devices, hoping that you would naturally find it in your heart to give your time or money to charitable works and deeds. Think of how much your city would gain in revenue just in the property taxes alone if there were something else in place of all of these churches. This doesn't even scratch the surface of how much money is wasted.
9. Why do many of you think there would be no morality without God? Why do you need someone looking over your shoulder with a reward for good deeds and punishment for bad deeds in order for you to do what is moral? Isn't it more admirable for me to be good with no promise for reward and no fear of punishment for not doing good, than for the believer to do good?
10. Why, in your belief of an afterlife, are you constricted to believe that some entity can control whatever ethereal being you will become without your body? What constricts you to the thought that you couldn't go where you please or do what you want? If your name was not in some 'book' and you were told to go to 'hell', what could possibly stop you from just saying, "YOU go to hell!" and then doing whatever you wanted?
11. The Bible is a single, solitary book. Why do you need to spend so much time studying it? Did you not get it on the third time? When reading it the first time as a child, I remember filling in the large gaping holes and contradictions with some fanciful story that seemed to satisfy those around me (as long as I believed, that was all that mattered). When reading again with a mind for critical thinking, I found that although much of the book had some great versus (and wisdom), much of it was repulsive. How can you take a book that is pro-slavery and misogynistic so seriously?
12. Why are there so many versions of the Bible? Did humans over the years feel the need to clean it up a little... fill in some gaps? Why wasn't one enough?
13. Why is there little evidence and information of Jesus outside the Bible? Why, with this little evidence and information, is there even less evidence that this possible Jesus character said or did anything remotely close to what is suggested in the Bible?
14. Why do you put so much belief and faith in a book written so long ago by ancient people, and so little faith in the people right in front of you?
15. Why does the answer that you provide for the question 'Where is God?' sound like it could also serve as an answer to 'Where is the magical and sacred Flying Spaghetti Monster?' or 'Where does the tooth fairy reside?'
16. If God has a 'plan', then what is the point of prayer? You will either pray for something that is or is not part of God's plan. Since you are unaware of God's plan, are you just happy in your delusion that your prayer may change the course of his plan?
I encourage my Christian friends to comment with their answers, experiences, and/or questions. I promise to be tolerant and respectful of your beliefs as long as you are tolerant and respectful of mine.