In the following 12 minute conversation (really more of a monologue), Richard Carrier explains why he is not a Christian. One of the reasons that I really like Carrier is that he isn’t an idiot. Unlike most atheists, I feel that he would understand where I come from. I’m an atheist but I understand the purpose of religion and I think those unanswerable questions are the most important questions there are. As I always say, my thinking about these issues never leads to answers, but it does lead to better questions. And that’s all I want: more insightful questions.
When it comes to the issue of Christianity, I am a pretty typical atheist. Christianity is a pretty silly religion. I don’t say that to be mean. All of the Abrahamic religions are silly. Anyone who thinks that they really answer the fundamental existential questions must have a very primitive notion of what those questions are. The Bible answers the great questions as much as Hugard and Braue’s Expert Card Technique. Look, both of those books are great—there is no question of that. And I love them both for completely different reasons. But neither has helped me understand my existence, which is so improbable that it can be treated as a singularity. (On the other hand, the Bible has some great stories in it and ECT has some swell card tricks.)
Carrier presents four reasons why he isn’t a Christian. The first is that God is silent. This is the biggest reason for me. If God cared about us at all, why did send his only begotten son to a backwater and then expect word to travel? Was it all part of God’s plan that billions of people should burn in hell because they just happened to grow up learning a different religion? Really?! If that is really who God is, he is either so unknowable or so evil that he does not deserve to be worshiped. This is like Theology 101. And I has a question to all the Christians in the US, “Do you think it is a coincidence that you think Christianity is true and you just happened to be born in a country that is overwhelmingly Christian?” Come on!
The rest of Carrier’s reasons aren’t as compelling. The second is basically the argument from evil. Why does God allow so much evil. He follows these with the fact that the evidence for Christianity sucks and that if Christianity were true, we would live in a different universe—one more like that described in the Bible. Christians have arguments for all of this, of course. In fact, they have arguments for every objection that we atheists have. The problem is that as they counter arguments, it becomes clear that only a fool would worship such a god. He is perfectly good, but in a way that we can’t comprehend. That is to say that whatever the hell he does is by definition good, which is what I call evil. What’s more, he is omnipotent, but not so omnipotent that he could provide us with a universe without paradoxes. (Good example: can God create something that is so heavy he can’t lift it?)
As usual, I really want to talk to other people about the wonder that I feel about my existence. People who are into New Age stuff are usually cranks, but they are open minded. Christians, on the other hand, nine times out of ten, just want to quote Bible versus. But there are two problems. First, I already know what the Bible says. Second, I know that the Bible is no more written by God than is Don Quixote. So these people don’t really want to talk about God. They’re more akin to Amway salesmen. It’s sad, really. They have long given up looking for God. And thus, they are dead to him, her, or whatever the hell it might be.