A local church has an advertisement in our newspaper for a thirteen week course on basic church teachings purporting to have the correct answers to fundamental westernized questions. I deny someone to tell me why my succinct answers to these questions aren't much much better than what they will say. Here goes:
Who is God?
It all depends on who you ask. This means your answers depend on what you were taught to believe. There is no objective basis for any of them. So the most reasonable position is to be skeptical of any given answer. If monkey's had gods they would conceive them to be just like them.
This doesn't really answer the question. What about the God revealed in the Bible? Does the God described in the Bible in any way resembles the kind of God you would expect people would make up? I don't think so. When you compare the gods of paganism with Yahweh, you get some strange inconsistencies. For example John Loftus often likes to argue that God's omnipotence and omniscience and omnipresence are logically inconsistent and that's true if you understand God the way he does and not the way the Bible describes Him. Loftus' God is bound by time and space. While the God of Bible is expressly described oppositely.
What About Angels?
Angels were previously known as divine beings sired by Yahweh and his consort, the "queen of heaven," known as Asherah. They were known as "sons of god" and cohabited with women to produce the giant mythical beings known as Nephilim. As the Hebrews become monotheistic these beings evolved to become known as the "watchers," probably intermediary beings between the gods and men. Later they became known as "angels," messengers from God. Editors tried to re-write the OT according to their post-Babylonian monotheistic understandings.
I often find that Loftus completely misunderstand the Bible and here is a case. No where in the Bible is God shown to have a wife or sexual in any way. The "sons of god" in Genesis 6 were not supernatural but men. I find it amazing given Loftus' aversion to supernatural concepts that he would opt for this interpretation. Anything to make the Bible seem wrong I suppose. If people edited the Old Testament to change things like God having sex and having a consort, where is evidence? Where are these unaltered texts from before the Babylonian exile? Easy. No such thing. He's making it up by looking at Canaanite culture and writings. No proof at all that Judaism as proscribed by Moses had any such features.
Will I go to heaven or hell?
Again, it all depends on who you ask. One Christian denomination condemns the other one and vice versa, while Muslims condemn them all to hell.
Without Jesus we all deserve hell. We are sinners. Through Jesus we have life.
See John 8:24. Jesus said:
"I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am he, you will indeed die in your sins.”
Is the Bible a divine book?
There isn't a trace of a divine author behind the pages in the Bible. Everything in it is more credibly understood as the musings of ancient pre-scientific superstitious barbaric agency detectors.
Sure. Proof? Loftus is making a claim. He often makes this claim. Can he substantiate it? Hasn't yet.
How does God answer my prayer?
He doesn't. Prayers are answered just about as often as good luck and bad luck happens. Christians habitually say God doesn't intervene with free choices, so if that's true then prayers that involve other human beings have no chance to be answered. Read more here.
What Christians say that God doesn't intervene with free Choices? Names? Sources? I don't. The Bible doesn't say that. I can't find that. No one is save if God doesn't interfere in their free will choices by changing their will.
Why is there suffering in the world?
From the theistic point of view this is inexplicable. But from evolutionary science this is natural, something we would expect to find.
Inexplicable? I guess, Loftus hasn't been paying attention to Theodicy for the past centuries. Just because you don't like the answer doesn't mean there is no answer. Given scripture and the presence of sin all around us why would you expect to have different than what we have?
18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19 For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that[h] the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.
22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.
26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.
28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[i] have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.- John 8:18-30
Why is Jesus Christ important to me?
I can't think of any reason why he should be at all.
Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” - Acts 4:12
What happens to my soul when it dies?
There is disconfirming evidence showing we don't have souls. Regardless, when humans die we go where all animals go when they die, including the skunk, the lion, and the shark. Since we are descendants of prior species then we all go to the same place, into dust from whence we came.
Proof? Another unsubstantiated claim? Who says humans don't have souls? Why should I accept this presupposition? Why should you?
What will happen at the end of the world?
The world will be burned up as the sun expands in about 2 billion years or so. Eventually the whole universe will reach absolute zero degrees and the chemical elements that make it up will disintegrate until there is nothing but blackness. Read more here.
hmmm....what does the Bible say?
10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare.
11 Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives 12 as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. 13 But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.
- 2 Peter 3:10-14
I fail to see how John Loftus offers any good answers at all.
Debunking Christianity: I Have Better Answers to Fundamental Questions Than Christians Do