The questions that organised religions need to answer

A creator is as good a theory as any and, after all, nobody can disprove it. It's just some established religions and their idea of a loving god who is interested in the salvation of every individual that makes no sense whatever. These are the main questions they should be answering.

  1. Why would a loving god make man jump through hoops rather than just put him in heaven in the first place? Whether the story of Adam and Eve is literal or allegorical, the clear notion is that god deliberately tested man by placing temptation in his path. What parent would place a treat in front of a young child, tell him he mustn't touch it and then throw him out of the house when he did? This god appears less loving than a normal human being, his actions are more like those a cold scientist experimenting on rats to see how they act.

  2. Why would there be a tree of good and evil anyway when an omnipotent god should be capable of eliminating evil? Or perhaps we should ask why he deliberately created it in the first place. If evil did not exist before Satan, what was it that drew the former angel from the path of righteousness? If evil existed before Satan and god created all things, who could have created evil apart from god? How can a creator of evil be entirely good?

  3. How is it just to condemn all men for sin equally when many things that make a man what he is, his genes, growth in the womb, nutrition, upbringing, brain damage due to disease or injury and psychological damage due to stress and trauma are entirely outside his control? If it is far harder for some to be righteous surely they should get some credit for the extra effort they have to make, yet nowhere in the religions of the book is there any indication that sin is relative.

  4. Why are practices like promiscuity, attacking other tribes and driving out or eliminating rivals and their offspring, sinful for man but not for other social animals like Apes, Lions or Meercats? If animals have no souls they cannot be following a path of evil so these behaviours can only have been given to them by god, their creator, to ensure the survival of their species. At what point in evolution did these essential survival skills become sins? Was it global at some point in time or are these practices still ok for those living in poorer societies where survival is tough?

  5. If wisdom comes from god who knows all things, why is there nothing in the words of any prophet or in any good book, that shows any knowledge whatever outside of the time and society in which they were said or written? This lack of foresight matters. Presumably Allah, for example, knew of the future problems of drugs. Why did he not not warn against all substances that affect our thoughts, rather than just alcohol, and stop some young Muslim men from being drug abusers and claiming it's ok?

  6. If a just god expects man to do his will, surely it is only reasonable that his will should be clear? Yet there have been many religions and many branches and sects of those religions, all with different versions of what god requires of us. Even within branches there are differences, many Catholic parents do not follow the church's views on contraception for example. Is it a child's fault if he is taught the wrong thing? How is it just to condemn a man for not following the right path if he has not been properly informed as to what the right path is?

  7. How is that revelations are so limited by time and place? Don't the souls of people born before the prophet/saviour or those who live far away and never hear his words matter? Some try to get round this question by claiming that truth is revealed to all but, if that was true, why would religious education be necessary at all? The reality is that different parts of the world have seen the evolution of completely different religious beliefs, indicating that it is human invention and interaction that evolve religious beliefs, not the words of god.

  8. What is so special about your beliefs? Millions today have religious beliefs that are different to yours. Millions who, like you, believe that only their path to salvation is the true one, can cite "proofs" and advance "logical" arguments that their beliefs are the correct ones. No reason to suppose that they are any less intelligent or rational than you, so why is it that you are right and they are wrong? Or could it be that you all twist your sense to suit your emotions?

  9. What about the many changes in faith throughout history? For example, most Christians now accept the scientific evidence that the Earth is not the centre of the universe and would say that that idea is not central to Christianity but 600 years ago it certainly was and such beliefs might have got you burned to death. If your beliefs and priorities properly reflect the will of god, how can they be so different to those of people in your church hundreds of years ago?

  10. Why has god mysteriously stopped performing miracles, appearing to the faithful, rumbling up mountains and handing out sacred scrolls since science has had the ability to record such events? If god wanted us to know the truth and follow his path then surely he should be making his existence and his wishes clear and putting out regular adverts on TV rather than rely on boring, poorly attended sermons by kiddie-fondling priests?

  11. Why is there not a single thing in any good book that demonstrably shows that divine intervention or prophecy has ever occurred? They may contain historical or geographical facts, that is hardly surprising and is true of any fiction, but where is the proof of the religiously important parts? We have all seen the "proofs" from the holy texts but to regard them as proofs you mostly have to assume meanings of vague phrases, ignore or distort real facts, or dismiss explanations that don't suit. People manage to find predictions in the drivellings of Nostradamus and other soothsayers. Look at any of them without bias and they are nonsense. A few things ring true but no more than one would expect from coincidence and that isn't good enough. If the scriptures are the infallible word of god, everything in them should be true.

  12. Where is the evidence that man has a special place in the universe? What is the point of the countless things that do not affect us, from distant comets to ocean floor dwelling worms? Why have the lowliest species been given the same survival techniques as man and even allowed to prey on him? Were dinosaurs god's chosen creatures when they were dominant or is it more likely that man is just another species that has come along and will eventually vanish in his turn? To an omnipotent, all knowing god who created the whole universe, the distinction between man and other higher animals would appear far, far less than that between an Amobea and a Paramecium would appear to us, so is it likely that we have any role that other living creatures do not?

  13. Why is god's will and purpose always unfathomable when anyone asks awkward questions but crystal clear when it comes to the trivia relayed to us by other men? How is the mean-spirited little god of the Talmud, Bible and Qu'ran, the Jehovah who turned a lady into rock salt for looking back, the Christ who got angry at money changers, the Allah who tells us how we should wash ourselves after going to the toilet, remotely compatible with this mighty creator of everything that even the most intelligent of men cannot begin to understand?

  14. If love of our fellow man is supposed to be a major goal, how can the good men who attain paradise apparently be so indifferent to the fate of those suffering in hell that they can be eternally happy? How would a good man be concerned about those in this world who are merely hungry but not care about those in eternal torment when he passes to a "higher" existence? The obvious logical explanation is that what we call love must be an earthly limitation and therefore one that god cannot possess. At least that explains why he apparently doesn't give a damn about the suffering of souls in hell either. He could end it, unlike us, but does not.

  15. Some will also say that religion has positives for mankind, but where is the evidence that religion improves man's behaviour in any way? Why do many religious countries, like South Africa, Mexico or Bangladesh, have far higher levels of violence than more secular countries like Western Europe or Japan? Why are both Muslims and Catholics overrepresented in UK prisons? Even when relative poverty is not an issue, how does religion moderate men's behaviour? Why does conservative Pakistan have one of the highest levels of internet porn access? Why is sexual abuse of boys so common in Afghanistan? Why are Catholic priests at least as likely to abuse young boys as anyone else? Why are alcohol-related hospital admissions for Pakistanis in the UK slightly higher than for the white British? Why were girls mistreated for decades by nuns in Ireland? Maybe one should also ask how some aspects of religion, the subordinate role of women for example, can possibly be regarded as positives even in theory.

  16. How can the scriptures be the word of god when they are such nonsense? Take the Story of the arc. How could one man and his family build an 41,000 M3 vessel complete with suitable storage for about 60,000 land-dwelling vertebrates and 1m invertebrates and find enough food to feed all of these species for 40 days? How could a flood cover the entire world when there is not enough water in the atmosphere, oceans and Earth's crust to do so? Why did god have to use a flood that would kill all land-dwelling creatures when man, the only creature to sin, could have been despatched with a plague? If there was just two of every beast wouldn't a proportion of them have died of natural causes before reproducing? What did all the carnivores eat in the months before any offspring appeared? How could every species have repopulated the earth from two individuals without a host of genetic defects appearing? How did animals on the other side of the world, across oceans, manage to reach the arc? This text was clearly written by a man with only the limited knowledge of the time and not one iota of divine guidance.

  17. Greek philosopher Xenophanes observed that gods of different peoples always resembled them and had their motivations. Greek gods tended to be fair-skinned and blue eyed, while African gods had darker skin and darker eyes. If truth is absolute, why are religions so slanted to particular cultures? Why is the Jewish/Christian/Muslim God always a bearded white man? Is your god racist? Or is that you, like all men, invent the god you want and can identify with?

  18. Look at the more modern religions where information is available and they are stories of fraud or delusion. Like Ron hubbard, a second rate sci-fi writer and incompetent ship's commander who had to be relieved of his command yet who, according to him, lived an astonishing life and was warmly received as special by everyone who met him. He invented Scientology as a way round restrictions on an unlicenced method of psychiatry. Or Adam Smith, who, when the translation of the golden plates was lost, came up with a completely different version of that actual history and immutable wisdom. Or Joanna Southcott, whose expected messenger from God turned out to be a phantom pregnancy and who left a box that contained a few odds and ends including a horse pistol. Of course we can never know anything for sure about Muhamed, Christ or Moses after millenia but, given the phoney nature of more recent religions, can we be sure beyond doubt that those men, even if they existed, were not frauds or delusional?

  19. Some will say it is wrong to ask such questions, that we should have faith, recognise that god acts in mysterious ways and that his purpose is too complex for mere man to understand. But why did he grant us the powers of observation and reason if he did not intend us to use them? Since understanding the mechanisms behind much of his creation clearly is within our capability, where exactly is the transition point between science and faith that we are not supposed to pass?