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Archive for the ‘Rationality’ Category

Rational Uncle

Q: My uncle just laughs when I say something about the Bible, because he says it’s full of errors and contradictions. How can I answer him? It’s hard to talk to him about religion because he doesn’t feel any need for God. — K.F.

A: Before answering your uncle you should read the parts of the bible he is talking about. There are lists here, here, here, and here. You will then see that your uncle is correct. The bible is full of contradictions and errors. As I wrote just last Friday, Christians must choose which parts to follow and which parts to ignore. I think that if you must make this decision, the validity of all of the bible is highly suspect. How could you know which parts are important and which are not? The most logical explanation of the errors and contradictions in the bible is that it was written by many different people over a long period of time, and had nothing to do with any gods.

Billy Graham’s answer.

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Pain Relief

Q: I’ve had severe back pain for over a year (after two unsuccessful surgeries), and now I’m afraid I might be getting hooked on my pain medicine. But I’m afraid to tell my doctor for fear he’ll take me off it. I need your prayers. — J.McF.

A: You should tell your doctor about this as soon as possible. She should be able to tell you if you are actually exhibiting signs of addiction. If you are, your doctor should also be able to prescribe a different pain killer and help you recover from the addiction. I hope you can find some relief from your pain soon.

Billy Graham’s answer.

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Defined

Q: What is your definition of a Christian? If someone were to ask them, most of my friends would say they are Christians, and most of them go to church (at least occasionally). But I’m not sure they really measure up to what Jesus expects of them. — K.W.

A:     Main Entry: Chris·tian
  Pronunciation: \’kris-chən, ‘krish-\
Function: noun
Etymology: Latin christianus, from Greek christianos, from Christos
Date: 1526
1a: one who professes belief that the Jesus described in the Bible is the son of God
1b: one who professes the belief that belief in Jesus as the son of God will render the believer into paradise upon death
2 a: FOOL, DUPE b: ANNOYANCE c: VICTIM

Billy Graham’s answer.

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Earthquake

Q: How do you explain something like the earthquake in Haiti? We’ve really been saddened by what’s happened there, and we just don’t understand why God lets things like this happen. Do you have any answers?
— D.K.

A: The different tectonic plates that make up Earth’s crust are in constant relative motion. Often this motion is impeded due to irregular features at the boundary (fault) between adjacent plates, and the plates deform over time. This deformation creates a large amount of stored energy. Periodically this strain energy is released rapidly, leading to the formation of seismic waves. When these waves reach the surface, they cause the ground to move side to side or up and down, and can result in catastrophic changes to the topology of the surface, severe damage to human constructions, and significant injury and loss of human life. This phenomenon is called an earthquake. Certain areas of Earth’s surface lie close to faults and are prone to frequent and/or major earthquakes. See Wikipedia for more information.

The recent disastrous earthquake of 12 January 2010 was due to slippage of the Enriquillo-Plantain Garden fault. While this earthquake was sudden and had devastating consequences of human life, it was not completely surprising given Haiti’s proximity to this fault and history of major earthquakes.

I have heard many people attribute this earthquake to the work of a supernatural deity but this notion is ridiculous. If it were caused by a god, then it is a god that kills people cruelly and indiscriminately. Haiti’s capital (Port-au-Prince, the site of the earthquake) has a birthrate of approximately 130 babies per day. That means that when the earthquake struck, 130 day-old babies, and 3,900 month-old babies were subjected to its effects. Since the death toll amounted to about 10% of the population of Port-au-Prince metro area, it is reasonable to expect a significant fraction of these vulnerable babies were killed. An additional significant fraction were also maimed and/or orphaned. If someone believes that a benevolent god let this happen or caused it to happen, their belief system is completely irrational and their god is cruel and crude. The most reasonable explanation is that there are no gods that intervene in our universe (for good or ill).

Billy Graham’s answer.

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Q: I have a friend who talks about having a personal relationship with God, but I don’t know what that means. I believe in God, but I can’t say I have a personal relationship with Him. Can you explain this concept? — G.R.W.

A: Since all of the gods known to us are human fabrications, it is ridiculous for anyone to claim having a personal relationship with any of them. People who make these claims may feel that such an imagined relationship makes them more significant. I was raised as a Christian and in the 30+ years that I believed Christian teachings, I never felt like I wanted or needed to have a personal relationship with God, Jesus, or any other imaginary being. For other perspectives on this topic, see these forum threads at EX-christian.net:

Billy Graham’s answer.

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Antichrist

Q: A friend of mine believes that the Antichrist is alive today, and he even thinks he knows who it is. Could he be right? What is the Antichrist, anyway? — D.McK.

A: The antichrist is a fictional character. It is usually described as someone who rises to prominence by promising prosperity to a particular country or society but who really has more devious motives. Since the antichrist is fictional, it is not possible that it is alive or for your friend to know who it is.

The antichrist character has been successfully used to make good horror books and movies such as The Omen and Rosemary’s Baby.

Billy Graham’s answer.

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Cain’s Wife?

Q: Where did Adam and Eve’s sons get their wives? I’ve heard people talk about this for years, but I’ve never heard anyone give a clear answer. — E.M.

A: This is both a good and a poor question. It is a good one to ask Christians because they usually do not have a good answer. They might say that Cain and Abel’s wives were their own sisters and that incest had not yet been forbidden by the Christian god. However, this is a ridiculous attempt to impart realism to a fictional story.

For a rational person, it is a poorly framed question because Adam, Eve, Cain, and Abel are fictional characters. They never existed. We (homo sapiens) evolved over a long period of time from older Homo hominids. The evolutionary changes that occurred to produce homo sapiens from older Homo species (H. heidelbergensis, H. antecessor, etc.) happened very slowly and gradually over tens and hundreds of thousands of years. Males and females, of course, evolved along side each other, and so there was never any real situation where the “first humans” had problems finding mates.

Billy Graham’s answer.

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