Recently, Heather M. Schuldt shared this debate she participated in with me:
I thought it would be interesting to answer the questions posed by the Atheists, so I’ll post their questions followed by my responses.
Question 1: If God is all powerful and all loving, why does he require blood to grant forgiveness? Old Testament or New, something had to die before he could forgive anyone. Human beings can forgive each other without their being a death first, why can’t God.
Response: God requires blood/death/separation from, as payment for sin, because he is all just as well as all powerful and all loving. God is Holy, and requires that we be separated from him if we sin against him, because that is what he knows is the just punishment for sin.
Death or separation from, is the penalty for sin against anyone. People who sin against other people will pay for those sins by death/separation from God in Hell, unless they accept forgiveness through Christ. Sinful humans have been ordered by God to forgive those who sin against them, because they are all guilty of sin, and in need of forgiveness, and God will take care of the justice required. This does not make people who forgive without requiring death more righteous than God. People should require justice to be done in order to receive forgiveness, but God is in charge of administering that justice, not people. This refers to justice in an ultimate sense, but even we as sinners require punishment for crimes/sins here on earth.
Death is the penalty God requires for sinning against him. Death is separation from. When we die physically, our spirit separates from our body. When we die spiritually, our spirit is separated from God. So death (or separation) is the penalty for sin. When someone rejects God by sinning against him, God requires that they be separated from him. Christ was separated from God on the cross, thus he cried out, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” Christ was separated from the Father as payment for all of human sin. And once Christ had paid the penalty of separation on the cross, there was no guilt within himself keeping him from being reunited with the Father. So Christ was raised from the dead, and resumed fellowship with the Father.
And why the death on the cross specifically? Why was Christ only separated from the Father for such a short time, etc, etc. The list of questions goes on and on. Coming to Christ is a spiritual matter. God never said, “I’ll answer all Atheist questions.” Rather, God tests our hearts. The sacrifice of Christ is what God decided to do about sin, and it satisfies him. That’s why he did it. And the truth is made clear to us when we read God’s word, so we are to accept it. God has left the door open to those who don’t want to have faith in him. They can quibble about this or that question, and never put their trust in Christ. In this way, God does not force us to come to him, free will is preserved.
Question 2: A variety of religions from ancient Greek beliefs to Native American beliefs both past and current account for gods that have relationships with their believers and with their servants. Why do you feel like the relationship you claim to have with Jesus Christ is somehow special or unique, and somehow invalidates how all other believers feel about their gods and their connections with their gods?
Response: My relationship with Christ is special and unique because it is real. Having a relationship with God, includes the Lord making it known to you that he is real. So I know that my God is real, and thus I also know that every other religious claim and god is false. That is how my relationship with God invalidates how all other believers feel about their false gods.
Question 3: Why is it that the believers in every religion in history were wrong about their respective religion, despite having the same amount of conviction and evidence as you do for Christianity? It seems to me that you’re already an Atheist when it comes to all other religions in history, but somehow the one you happen to be born into is the one correct one.
Response: No one has the same amount of conviction that a Christian has, because Christians know Christianity is true. And on some level, people believing false religions know they are false, this goes for the false religion of Atheism as well.
No one has the same amount of evidence Christians have for Christianity.
We are not Atheists regarding other religions, we see that God exists, as they do, and we thankfully know who that God is as well.
Yes, we were born into a nation that taught us the correct religion, that is how things have worked out for us.
Question 4: Often creationists will characterize the Big Bang as something magically created from nothing. But then you have creationists who literally believe a supernatural being created the entire universe, literally something magically from nothing. My question to you is, why is the first one irrational, but the second one logical?
Response: “Let me begin by affirming that Christian theology is committed to creatio ex nihilo, that is to say, the doctrine that God created the universe without any material cause. God is the efficient cause which produced the universe, and there was no material cause. He Himself created the matter and energy. When we say that the matter and energy were created out of nothing, we mean merely that, although created, they were not created out of anything.
Let me also affirm that, as you put it, “for a casual event to occur, you would need potentiality and an agent or object to actualize it.” For that reason, something’s coming into being spontaneously from nothing is metaphysically impossible. For, as you say, non-being has no potentialities, no powers, no properties—it is not anything. That’s why being comes only from being. Ex nihilo nihil fit—out of nothing nothing comes. So if something has an absolute beginning of existence, there must exist an actual being which produces the thing in existence.”
For more, read: #240 Must the Universe Have a Material Cause?
Question 5: In most sections of Christian theology, there’s typically one of two afterlife’s you’ll get into when you die, there might be different subsects of this but generally speaking there are these two main ones. Heaven or Hell. So my question would be, why would you want either of those? Let me lay it out. You can either go to Heaven, and have no free will, or you can go to Hell and burn forever. Take your pick. If you go to heaven, everything is happy at all times, which means you’re not allowed to feel sadness. You’ll be worshipping God until the end of days, and there’s going to be no end of days, which means it’s going to keep going forever and ever, which means, you effectively have no will of your own. You’re forced to worship this deity until who knows when. Now if you go to Hell, then you’re going to be burning forever but at least you have your free will. In neither of these are you given a choice or a chance to be anything but what you will be shaped and molded into. In both of these you will effectively be a slave, whether you have your free will and you’re burning and tortured or you have no free will and thus are stuck in unending servitude. It seems that a lot of Christian theists want these places to exist, and my question would have to be, why? Both of them sound absolutely abysmal.
Response: People will have free will in Heaven. They will freely enjoy everything that is wonderful in Heaven for all eternity. And the most wonderful thing of all, will be spending time with God.
Question 6: Both of us believed in God, it meant everything to us, it colored how we saw the world, it gave us meaning and it gave us strength. Then one day, we couldn’t, we had questions, we had doubts, and they couldn’t be answered. We searched, we wanted to, and we tried. We struggled to make ourselves believe again, but we couldn’t pretend that we did without knowing that it was a lie. So here’s our question: can a person simply choose to believe in something that they are not convinced of? If not, and God created our brains to require a certain level of evidence in order to be convinced, why has he chosen to not provide that level of evidence for us, even though we both wanted to believe?
Response: “Then one day, we couldn’t, we had questions, we had doubts, and they couldn’t be answered.” – That is a lie. God states in his word:
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,
19 ¶ because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them.
20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse,
21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.
22 Professing to be wise, they became fools,
So everyone knows that God exists. God further states:
7 ¶ “Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you.
8 “And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:
9 “of sin, because they do not believe in Me;
10 “of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more;
11 “of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.
So everyone who has heard the Gospel knows Jesus Christ is God.
“We searched, we wanted to, and we tried. We struggled to make ourselves believe again, but we couldn’t pretend that we did without knowing that it was a lie.” – Given the verses just quoted, what they are saying here is a lie.
“So here’s our question: can a person simply choose to believe in something that they are not convinced of?” – No, a person cannot do that. But the point the verses quoted make, is that everyone knows God exists, and everyone who has heard the Gospel knows that Jesus Christ is God. So these people didn’t need to be convinced that the Bible is true, they already were convinced of it, but they chose to sin.
“If not, and God created our brains to require a certain level of evidence in order to be convinced, why has he chosen to not provide that level of evidence for us, even though we both wanted to believe?” – Again, God provided absolute proof to these people, yet the continued in unbelief, showing that they are liars who did not want to believe.