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Hypocrites

Q: If Christianity is true, then why are most of the so-called “Christians” I know hypocrites? I’d rather be a complete unbeliever (which is what I am) than someone who claims to be a Christian but doesn’t act like it. At least I try to be a good person, and they don’t. — J.H.

A: I think that many self-proclaimed Christians are hypocrites precisely because Christianity is not true. The bible has so many inconsistencies and contradictions, that its is logically impossible to live by all of the rules contained therein. People who believe that the bible is the “word of God”, must necessarily choose which parts to follow and which to ignore. They do this even if they don’t realize it. Therefore, they may appear to act hypocritically because they are in fact ignoring certain parts of the bible. The hypocrisy is most noticeable when people choose to interpret the bible (choose which parts to follow and which to ignore) in different ways.

I also think that some Christians behave in deplorable ways because they believe that only faith (not good works) is required for salvation after death. (I’ve addressed this topic before.)

This picture is relevant to your final comment about trying to be a good person without religion.

Billy Graham’s answer.

Feel free to leave your answer to this question in the comments.

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Grief

Q: My husband died several months ago (of cancer), and they have been the hardest months of my life. People try to cheer me up by saying he’s in heaven now, and I believe it, but it doesn’t take away the hurt. How can I get over this? — E.W.

A: I am sorry for you loss. I have never suffered a loss of this magnitude, so I don’t think I can give you any good advice beyond suggesting that you seek out a grief counselor (hopefully, a secular one).

I am also sorry that you were tricked into believing that the teachings of the Christian church are true. While no one can definitively say whether there is some sort of afterlife or not, we can with utmost confidence say that the Christian god and heaven are not real. The rational arguments in favor of this position are overwhelming. The same can be said of all afterlives (heavens, paradises, hells) described by other religions such as Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, and Baha’i. I think that belief in the afterlife is an immature reaction to the reality of death. Death of a loved one is very difficult to deal with. Believing that you will be reunited with that loved one in an afterlife may provide some comfort, but it is a false comfort. We should realize that our departed loved ones will live on in the memories of others and in the legacies they generated during their lives. This is something real that we can take comfort in.

Billy Graham’s answer.

Feel free to leave your answer to this question in the comments.

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.

Feel free to leave your answer to this question in the comments.

Wasting Time

Q: I know I ought to tell others about Jesus and urge them to believe in Him, but the last time I tried I failed so miserably that I haven’t attempted it since. I couldn’t answer their questions, and I know they must have thought I was a fool, but I couldn’t help it. — M.McC.

A: I am not surprised you had a hard time answering questions about Jesus. The stories in the bible are completely absurd and contradictory. Instead of spending your time telling others about the story of Jesus, you would be better off researching the origins of the story. Most of the stories and themes in the bible (both New and Old Testaments) were borrowed, adapted, or copied from older cultures and religions in the Middle East and Mediterranean regions. The books of the New Testament were written decades after Jesus supposedly lived and died, and the authorship of those books is not known. These facts combine to erode the credibility of the bible. Don’t take my word for it, however. Research this topic for yourself, and if you approach it with an open mind, you are likely to come to a similar conclusion. If you eventually reject the bible, Christian teachings, and belief in the supernatural, you’ll likely have more time to spend on worthwhile efforts (e.g., doing something you enjoy, spending time with your family, and helping others).

Billy Graham’s answer.

Feel free to leave your answer to this question in the comments.

Q: Did people in Old Testament times go to heaven when they died? Or is heaven reserved only for people who lived after Jesus came? I haven’t found anything about heaven in the Old Testament. — L.D.

A: Since the Christian heaven does not exist, no one has ever gone there when they died, and this question has no answer. Here’s a question I’d like a Christian to answer:

    Since it is well documented that modern humans gradually evolved from earlier phylogenic ancestors, at which point in our evolution did we become eligible to go to heaven?

I don’t think there is a good answer to this question. I can’t imagine there are any Christians that believe that other hominids (chimps, gorillas, and orangutans) go to heaven when they die. Evolutionary evidence tells us we are animals (primates, mammals, chordates) and that we very slowly evolved to the species we are today from animals that resembled chimps or gorillas more so than modern humans. Since this change was so gradual, how can anyone point to a time when we suddenly were worthy of salvation?

It is much more rational to realize that we are part of the continuum that is the eukaryotic tree of life and not a special animal made in the image of some god.

Billy Graham’s answer.

Feel free to leave your answer to this question in the comments.

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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.

Feel free to leave your answer to this question in the comments.

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Horrible

Q: One of my New Year’s resolutions this year was to read some of the Bible every day. But like most of my resolutions, I’ve failed to keep it. I found some of it interesting, but I didn’t really understand most of it, so I stopped. Was I doing something wrong? — A.J.L.

A: I can’t blame you for stopping. The bible is a horrible book. It’s horribly boring, horribly cruel1, horribly inconsistent2, horribly wrong3, horribly misogynistic4, horribly absurd5, and has horrible credibility6. Many people have said that the best argument against the existence of the Christian god is the bible itself, and I tend to agree.

1 The bible describes its god as a murderer of millions (including infants!)
2 There are two different creation stories in Genesis. More examples here.
3 The sun revolves around the Earth? More examples here.
4 Men can divorce their wives, but women cannot divorce their husbands. More examples here.
5 A donkey sees an angel, recognizes it as such, and then speaks in human language (presumably Hebrew) to his master. Taken from here.
6 The bible is incredible (i.e., too improbable to be believed).

Billy Graham’s answer.

Feel free to leave your answer to this question in the comments.

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