There are two different manuals for debating. One of them, apparently, asserts that we must have a rational framework to debate from, while the other specifies a loose, moving-goalpost style that allows one to always assume that they have won the debate’s arguments.
Religion’s manual describes a self-sustaining feedback loop that assures that whatever one looks for one will find, particularly if one is willing to continually redefine terms. Gods were once very much like men, although slightly more powerful. They lived apart but on occasion would visit mankind and for some reason enjoyed copulating with humans. After all, why have the power of a god if you couldn’t enjoy sex whenever you liked?
Telescopes extended our vision and gods were nowhere to be found. The highest mountains didn’t produce them, and so a new paradigm was necessary. A parallel line of thought was that gods had separated earth from the land of the gods and just as water separates continents there was water in the sky that separated the home of the gods from the home of men.
As our ability to see across vast distances grew, no sign of the firmament that held up the waters in the sky was found. Indeed, what we found was that water becomes vapor and rises, then condensates and falls. Gods, of necessity, became invisible. How else could we not see them? Since they had walked with men, they couldn’t be that far away, so Heaven and Hell and their various deities have assumed invisibility and now that has morphed into concepts of dimension. Now there’s a veil that shields them from us, tenuous and thin, it can be crossed at times by the True Believer.
But the modern-day God is often thought to have the same physical aspects as ourselves, with special powers that allow Him to appear at will, or never appear if He so desires. In some ways, this is not much changed from the day of Zeus and Heracles and Diana, who interacted with humans but then lived in a place removed from the eyes of man.
Does God have a belly button? If so, why? A penis? A vagina? All of the above? These questions can only confuse theists although they will usually answer as if they know which is a real attribute of God. Since we are made in His “image and likeness,” some will insist, then God must have human features. Since he must be all-powerful and unlimited, say others, he cannot have such features. Amorphous God can be whatever the believer needs Him to be at any stage of argument.
Having doubts? Well, any convenient episode can be attributed to God’s mercy, His patience, His anger, or His whim. If you don’t believe, sinner, then the fault must lie with you. You just aren’t trying hard enough.
And you’re bad. Guilt is a primary motivator. Knowing that you are born a sinner means that you must spend your lifetime seeking to have your sins forgiven or at least tolerated by the imagined powerful deity. For some reason, God hates sin but loves his created beings and wants to cure them of it. How can a baby be sinful? Formed of lust and passion, it must be that those aspects of humanity are themselves insulting and filthy. So religion seeks to control sexual behavior.
You can have several wives but you must follow a set of rules. Or you can only have one wife and must follow a set of rules. Or you can be better than those around you and have no wives but you must follow a set of rules. These rules prescribe actions that will help you be less sinful – you must not give yourself pleasure because it does not please God. You must not enjoy sex but you must use it only to procreate. And still, your act is a manifestation of sin.
An aural hallucination is evidence of God. An aural hallucination is evidence of mental disease. Pick one. I know there is a God because he speaks to me. I know there is a God because I see Him in everything. How could everything be so perfect if there wasn’t a God?
The earth is 10,000 years old. Just ignore those smarmy scientists who think that carbon dating works. It’s obvious that God’s Word clearly illustrates exactly how old the earth is. All you have to do is to count the days of the patriarchs back to the beginning. It’s all written there for you to understand.
True, only the most besotted believers believe in a young earth. In their certitude that their God would not only not lie but must be accurate, it never occurs to them that those whose lives we read of were people who had no written language to record their lives with. To a believer, the word inspired means dictated. So, it does not matter that stories were written 800 or more years after they supposedly happened, God gives his word to his scribes and they faithfully copy it into permanent records that never change. And if you believe that, we’ll move on to your purchase of a fine bridge, guaranteed to pay you back many times over in tolls.
The Bible is true because the Bible says it is true. God exists because everybody knows He exists. Prayer works because it just does. And believers believe because faith is a virtue.
The workings of the human mind are indeed amazing.