Why I'm Not Christian

A few points are worth noting before I explain why I’m not Christian. First and foremost, I haven’t read the Bible. My understanding of Christianity has entirely been accumulated through cultural exposure, philosophy, and private conversations. So my reasons for not being Christian should be interpreted accordingly. Second, I’m not committed to identifying myself either as an atheist or an agnostic. I’ve heard numerous definitions of both terms and I’m indifferent towards them. My position is that I leave the existence of God as a question. And third, although my target is Christianity, my arguments could also be applied towards other religions to the extent they rely on the same premises.

With that I mind, let’s begin with the more fundamental claims and then move onto the more specific ones.
  1. I’m not convinced by the contingency argument, which, I’ve been told is the best one for the existence of God, since it provides a plausible reason to believe in the existence of a necessary being, and God, by definition, is a necessary being. To elaborate, a necessary being is something that has to exist, whereas a contingent being is something that doesn’t have to exist.

    In a nutshell, the contingency argument states that it is plausible to believe that there is a necessary being on which the existence of all contingent beings rest, and that this is more plausible than an infinite regress of contingent beings. For instance, if there is something that doesn’t have to exist—let’s say a chair—it is reasonable to believe that there is or was another being on which the existence of the chair rests—perhaps a craftswoman. But if that craftswoman were also contingent, then it would be reasonable to believe that the craftswoman’s existence rests on another being—i.e. her parents. If we were to keep doing this forever, however, it would lead to an infinite regress, and infinite regresses are unpalatable for one reason or another. Accordingly, it is reasonable to believe that there is a necessary being on which the existence of all contingent beings rest.

    The argument then claims that it is plausible to believe that the universe is contingent—that is, the universe doesn’t have to exist. If that is the case, then there must be a reason why it exists. Thus, there is a plausible reason to believe that there is a necessary being on which the existence of the universe rests. And Christians call this necessary being God.

    In response to this argument, I do admit that an infinite regress is troublesome. The idea of there being turtles all the way down doesn’t sit well with me, and I think it’s because I have a hard time wrapping my head around the idea of infinity in general. That said, the idea of a necessary being also bothers me. Why does anything have to exist? I don’t find the concept of something necessarily existing any more plausible than an infinite regress. Thus, in the end, I take no position on the creation of the universe.

  2. However, let’s suppose for the sake of the argument that there is a necessary being. Even in that case, I’m not convinced that this being is personal—and by personal, I roughly mean a being that possesses intellect, volition, and emotions. William Lane Craig’s argument is that there is good reason to believe that whatever caused the universe is personal, because the universe started to exist at some point in time rather than another. This suggests that something chose to create the universe. Craig (2004) puts it this way:

    If the cause [of the universe] were a mechanically operating set of necessary and sufficient conditions, then the cause could never exist without the effect. For example, the cause of water’s freezing is the temperature’s being below 0° Centigrade. If the temperature were below 0° from eternity past, then any water that was around would be frozen from eternity. It would be impossible for the water to begin to freeze just a finite time ago. So if the cause is timelessly present, then the effect should be timelessly present as well. (p. 5)

    Craig's argument can be formulated into the following question: Why is the universe as old as it is? Presumably, the universe could be 18 billion years old rather than 14 billion, so there must be a reason for its particular age. This sounds like a reasonable question to ask. Unfortunately, I don't know what the answer is. What I can say, however, is that I'm uncomfortable with adopting the position that there is an immaterial person who decided to create the universe at that specific moment. It certainly would be one explanation, but until I have a better understanding of physics and metaphysics, I'm unwilling to rule out other possible explanations.

  3. But let’s assume premise 1 and 2—that is, let’s assume that there exists a necessary being and that this being is personal. I don’t see why a necessary, personal being has to be all-good. As far as I can tell, the argument usually goes something like this:

         (a)    God is being.
         (b)    Being is goodness.
         (c)    Therefore, God is goodness.

    In response, I’m not really sure what to say in regards to premise (a). I don’t have a good understanding of metaphysics, so for argument’s sake, I’ll assume its plausibility. Premise (b), however, seems odd to me, mainly because it contrasts with the more intuitive claim that some being is neutral in value. For instance, suppose there are two universes that are identical in every way except for the fact that one of them contains an extra rock. If being is goodness, then it follows that the universe with the extra rock in it contains more goodness. This seems false. A more reasonable claim is that the extra rock does not add any extra goodness to that universe.
     
  4. Up till now, the arguments that I’ve considered are about the existence of a necessary, personal, and all-good being. These arguments, even if true, would not establish that Christianity were the one true religion, since they do not establish that Jesus was the Son of God. For this, one must accept the accounts given in the Bible regarding the resurrection of Christ, as well as other miraculous events.

    In response, I’m not convinced that Jesus was the Son of God because I don’t believe the accounts given in the Bible. And I don’t believe the accounts given in the Bible because I don’t believe in miracles. For me, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, and historical accounts do not suffice. To be convinced of something as extraordinary as someone rising from the dead, I would require evidence attained through the scientific method. Now if it is the case that evidence for miracles cannot be attained this way, then I’m afraid I cannot see how I can ever believe in miracles.
     
  5. The last reason why I’m not Christian is because I reject its sexual ethics. I don’t think there’s anything immoral with having sex before marriage, or having sex with multiple people at the same time, or having sex with another person of the same sex, as long as everyone is a consenting adult. Also, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with anal sex or masturbation.

    Regarding the latter, I get the impression that the reason why Christians are against these actions is because they accept some version of the function argument. For those unfamiliar, the function argument says that what it means for a thing to be good is for it to fulfill its function well. For instance, a good heart is one that pumps blood well. Some have taken this argument to mean that it is bad to use a thing in a way that is not according to its function. This variation of the function argument is immediately implausible. For instance, assuming the function of my ears is to hear, it is in no way bad if I wiggle my ears as a party trick. That said, I think there is a more plausible form of the variation of the function argument, and it is this: to use a thing in a way that impedes its functioning is bad. According to this variation, it would be bad if I poured acid into my ears, because that would impede their functioning.

    Even if we take this more plausible variation of the argument, however, it wouldn’t apply to anal sex or masturbation. Anal sex could be harmful if done improperly, but it is not necessarily so. And I definitely don’t see why masturbation is necessarily harmful to one’s genitals.
A person reading this post may say, “Okay, the arguments are not sufficient to make you convert to Christianity, but this is where faith comes in.” I’m not sure how to respond to this. I think for me, faith has to be justified, but I admit that I don’t know what would be necessary for me to feel justified in having it. Perhaps if I had some sort of miraculous experience—such as dying, seeing God, and then coming back to life—I'd change my mind.

I shall end with this statement: If I were to see God after I die, I would tell him that I tried my best to be intellectually honest.

References

Craig, W. L., & Sinnott-Armstrong, W. (2004). God? A Debate Between a Christian and an Atheist. New York: Oxford University Press.