“I’ll have ten plausible explanations and uh… hold the truth.” That seems to be good enough for most Christians nowadays, fundamentalists in particular. Where are the seekers of truth today? Gone the way of the home cooked meal I guess. It’s just too much work.
Why do you suppose it is that a child born in Iraq will likely become a Muslim while a child born in Utah will likely become Mormon and a child born in Central America is likely to become a Catholic while a child born in Alabama is likely to become a Protestant? Do you think the argument for Islam is any more compelling in Iraq than it is where you live? Do you think the argument for fundamentalist Christianity is any more compelling in Alabama than in Utah? No. We are products of our environments.
So you attend your hometown church and, lucky you, it happens to be of the one true religion! But there were a few things you don’t quite understand, so you ask your local clergy or you read the latest and greatest apologists and “presto,” it all makes sense. But if people of all different religions were asking these tough questions and getting straightforward answers, wouldn’t people eventually figure out the truth and gravitate toward it? Wouldn’t the religion closest to the truth become the obvious choice as truth seekers everywhere found the truth?
Enter the plausible explanation. It seems that most people are comfortable with any plausible explanation for a problem as long as it lets them hang on to their current beliefs, true or otherwise. For instance, when scientific evidence flies in the face of long held religious beliefs, Christians will accept any explanation that lets them hang on to their existing notions of truth. Ask a fundamentalist how old the earth is and they will tell you with a straight face that it is only 10,000 years old, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
So, you say, that is just how faith works. Faith is what saves us and it wouldn’t be faith if we had all the answers, right? The problem is that the truth has been lost in all of this. Mahatma Ghandi once said that “There is no god higher than truth.” What good is faith if it has you believing in something that is not true? Suppose your spouse has been coming home late from work every day for a month. Suppose each day you are given a plausible explanation for where they have been. “I had a flat tire” or “I had to work late” or “I ran out of gas”. The truth is that they have been having an affair. Do you want the truth, even if you don’t like it, or do you want to go on accepting plausible explanations? Most would say they want the truth.
So why wouldn’t you seek the truth when it comes to religion, a decision that shapes the rest of your life? You wouldn’t buy a car without test driving it first. You wouldn’t buy a house without having it inspected. But people walk into the church that is closest to their home, or the one like their parents took them to, and accept that they have found the truth. When they see a problem with it, if they ask about the problem they accept whatever they are told without verifying it at all. Great apologists are made, not because they are particularly adept at finding answers to those tough questions, but because people don’t look past the first explanation they are given.
I was once a bible college student studying to become a preacher. I am now an atheist. Why? Because I looked for the truth, even when I didn’t like what I found. As I began to face difficult questions like contradictions in the Bible, the abhorrent morality propogated in the Bible, and the fact that it all just didn’t make sense, I had plenty of mentors to turn to. But I soon saw a pattern of them giving me an answer that “could be” a plausible explanation for each particular problem. But often these proposed explanations were ridiculous and if they were challenged I was blasted for not just having faith.
Suppose that you were buying a building and you were told that the roof didn’t leak. You walk in and find a puddle on the floor. “That came up through a crack in floor” you are told and assured that the roof doesn’t leak. You find another puddle and are told that the water blew in through an open window. Upon finding another puddle you are told that the water fountain leaks, but the roof is impervious to leaks. The next puddle is explained as a spill and yet another is explained as recent mopping. Then drops sart falling on your head. “Condensation from the air-conditioning ducts,” you are told. But as you look up you see water running down the rafters above the ducts. “Oh, that could be from my kids playing with their super soaker water canons in here, it didn’t come through the roof.” Plausible explanations are made for each little puddle of water you find, but as you survey the building, the floor is covered with water and the seller is standing there telling you the roof doesn’t leak. How can you buy that?
So, what is the point of this article? I would encourage you to examine WHY you believe what you believe. Ask the hard questions and fearlessly pursue truth. Educate yourself about both sides of the argument. Sure it will take some work, but if you were wrong about God, wouldn’t you want to know? Christians are trying to legislate their brand of morality, put God into government and “creation science” into our schools. So ask yourself what you belive. Is it that every species of animal once survived for a year on a single wooden boat? That the earth is only 10,000 years old? That God divided people by race and language because people were “too united”? That Samson killed thousands of men with a jawbone because he didn’t cut his hair? That unicorns once existed? That Jonah lived in a whale for three days? That after 2,000 years of waiting, Jesus is going to return? Why do you believe these things? It’s time to grow up and put the God fairy-tale where it belongs, in your past alongside Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy and the monster under your bed.