25 Hot Topics for a New Book

I had previously mentioned that a Christian scholar and myself are co-writing a book. We've just made it out of the planning stage. We had to have a book proposal with a promise of appealing to readers. Well, we've settled on one tentatively titled "God or Godless? Fifty Five Minute Debates." It will be designed for people who want some short answers (500 words each) to hot topics surrounding the theist/atheist debates. I am to come up with 25 hot topics and he will come up with 25 more. While I don't think short answers get the job done right, they can be interesting and informative just the same. Which ones would you suggest for me?


EvanT said...

Here are the questions that rattled me when I was a Christian:

1. What could possibly compel the Perfect from inaction into action and in tandem, how can the Perfect have desires, the implication being that desires stem from imperfection. (Epicurus had a couple of things to say on the matter)
2. Infinite punishment for finite sins. (a staple I'd guess)
3. The fragmentation of the Church.

The Euthyphron Dilemma is another staple worth exploring.

clamflats said...

Other than the threat of an eternal afterlife that will be experienced in either unending torment or bliss, what should compel someone to consider Christianity?

LadyAtheist said...

I don't know if the questions I have would be "hot" but here are a few:

If Mary was impregnated by God, then why do the Gospels trace his genealogy through Joseph?

If God made everything and declared it "good" why was it such a big deal for Adam & Eve to be ejected from the Garden? Wouldn't wherever they went be just as "good?"

If God made everything, then he must have made Evil. But everything God makes is "good" so is Evil "good?"

If salvation is through declaring belief in God, then why should anyone who's been saved obey the 10 commandments? ...and if it's through good works, then why obey the 10 commandments? ... and if you can clear your sins by weekly confession, then why obey the 10 commandments?

Why does God only answer some prayers? Why doesn't everyone who gets prayed over in emergency rooms recover? Do prayer circles and chains suggest that God only works miracles on popular people?

matt the magnificient said...

if god impregnated a woman without her consent, wouldn't that be rape?

if god is real, why has he done NOTHING about the show Jersey Shore?

why is there no mention of strange animals in the bible such as penguins, kangaroos, platapus, kiwi, komodo dragons, etc if all the animals of the earth were brought to the ark?

what would jesus do?

where did dinosaurs come from, and how do they fit into the creation myth?

When science finally proves god did not create the universe and does not exist, will the christian churches of the world be making reparations to the people they fleeced and decieved, sell all their buildings and assets and disband?

Why does jesus say he came back to not change any of the old laws, yet christians eat BBQ pork and lobster like its going out of style?

the list goes on and on.....

GearHedEd said...

Jesus would do the flippin' speed limit!

matt the magnificient said...

If he did I would honk my horn and flash my lights until he either sped up or pulled over and let me pass. NO ONE does the speed limit, not even my grandma. lets try to be realistic here, gearhead.

Mitch.Silvers said...

I love this viewpoint, I also like to share this site's viewpoint with everyone:
It isn't necessarily skeptisism, more of a genuine lack of arrogance.

Walter said...

My questions would be:

Why did God not put Satan and his fallen angels into hell immediately?

Why leave them alone, where they could tempt humanity into falling and infect all of creation with evil? Did God want man to fall? And if God engineered or orchestrated the fall, should He not share in some of the blame?

GearHedEd said...

@ matt:

I was referring to the prototypical fuzzy white lumps peeking over the dasboards of their Coupe deVilles, doing 35 in a 55 zone while sporting a "WWJD" bumper sticker.

You know the ones I'm talking about.

Jesus would AT LEAST do the speed limit (but he wouldn't break it, because he's without sin).

GearHedEd said...

Apparently you've never driven through Boca...

cerbaz said...

Why was the god of the old testament so violent and commanded genocide. All the killings/murder of the ot with god's blessing is what has turned me away from my fundalmental belief system.

Leah said...

Why should the emotional and spiritual claims of converts be taken seriously as evidence, given that similar experiences are reported by converts to different, mutually exclusive faiths? Is there any reason to take one sects claim of authentic conversion experiences more seriously than all other contenders?

(If anyone's interested, I did an extended post on this topic here)

Jim said...

If Jesus "paid the price" for my sins "in full" then why can't I "sin" as much as I want?

Jim said...

For God to require that humans make the correct belief decision so that they may have eternal bliss in heaven and avoid eternal torment in hell seems to require 2 things:

1. Perfect information, and
2. Perfect information processing

Since humans possess neither, how can hell be an even remotely righteous punishment for those who make the "wrong" decision?

scattered said...

Several topics like evolution etc., are obvious choices. Maybe include some social/ethical/practical issues like:

1) How to face death. Many believers seem to believe that faith is necessary to face death with courage.

A related topic:

2) Suicide ("There is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide" - Camus)

3) How to respond to the threat from Islam.

4) Homosexuality. My hunch is that gay rights (and the Church's oposition to it) will cause major defections from Chritianity in the next couple of decades.

5) Environmental issues - why care about the future of the Earth? It is distressing to see the extent to which conservative Christians tend to deny global warming. I guess that if you don't trust scientists when they talk about biology, why trust them when they talk about climate?

Jeffrey A. Myers said...

How can a believer in Revelatory Knowledge doubt the claims of other religions?

If the Bible is inaccurate, incorrect, inconsistent, or contradictory, how can any coherent theology be derived from it?

matt the magnificient said...

Why did god only reveal himself and his expectations to only a small group in one area of the world, instead of all groups of humanity across the globe at the time and give everyone the benefit of an equal start on the road to salvation?

Why did god intentionally make Pharoah oppose the idea of releasing the slaves, when a simple demontration of his power would have accomplished the same goal, without all the bloodshed?

Why cant I touch my elbow to my chin? or roll my tongue? are these design flaws?

Why did god call everything he created good, yet also create cancer, diabetes, AIDS, the Bubonic plague, the flu, etc. are these things good as well?

AIGBusted said...

I think you have a vast sea of five minute debates just waiting for you:

-Any one of about 1,000 discrepancies in the Bible.

-Some of the "incompatible properties" arguments against God. For example: A being could not be both a creator and perfect throughout all time because a perfect being does not create (one who creates or seeks to make a change lacks something or is not satisfied, and perfect being by definition would not fall under either category).

Andy B said...

2 Corinthians 4:1-6 (New International Version)

2 Corinthians 4
Treasures in Jars of Clay
"1Therefore, since through God's mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. 2Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God. 3And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake. 6For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness,"[a]made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ."
You are in my prayers.

Jayak said...


Paul (Saul of Tarsus) is one to talk about "not using deception". Just reading the epistles attributed to him and comparing them to scripture tells me that deceipt/twisting of scripture was a tool he used often to defend his position.


A said...

The most common question I get is:

If there is no God, then why not move to Thailand so you can rape children with minimal consequences?

matt the magnificient said...

@ A.

Well gosh, do you answer "don't worry, if there is a God, we don't have to move to Tailand. we can continue to rape children under the guise of our religion positions of authority such as priests, pastors, clergymen, sunday school teachers and youth group leaders right here, and let the childrens shame, fear and embarrassment hide our actions for years, with minimal concequences and the church legal teams backing us 100% in our denials"?

just because we are atheists does not mean we have no morals, or that we desire to live in an ammoral society.

LadyAtheist said...


If you want atheists to do anything but snicker at your posts, put something into them that isn't a quotation from your book of fairy tales.


LadyAtheist said...

Borrowing from readers on Randal Rauser's blog: Isn't the bible indistinguishable from a book written entirely by humans without any divine intervention? What proof is there of divine intervention, and why should we believe that book more than the Koran, the Tao Te Ching, the Book of Mormon or Dianetics?

GearHedEd said...

Here's one:

Why is there no "Gospel According to Jesus"?

Steven Bently said...

Why is there no "Gospel According to Jesus"?

or Mary?

Because Jesus and Mary are the fabrication of fraudulent men!

Brap Gronk said...

What do people do in heaven? Do people need to be changed before getting there so they don't get bored doing it for an eternity? Are there any challenges in heaven?

Clare said...

1. Why is "thou shalt not covet" one of the ten commandments when much worse sins such as pedophilia and keeping slaves are not mentioned?
2. If the flood was fresh water, what did Noah do with the salt water fish etc.?
3. Assuming Jesus was real, why haven't we heard from him for 1980 years or so?

FreddieZ said...

Hope these aren't stupid questions... I also like LadyAtheist's lineage question.

1. Since I heard of the Gospel of Judas, I wondered: If God sent his son/himself to Earth specifically to die, wouldn't those responsible for expediting that plan here on earth be exhalted and not villified? Judas specifically. Which is it? To the Xtians, did Judas do the most vile, treacherous thing in all of history? Or should he be revered as having performed the greatest service of turning in the jebus for the greater good? Did god have a different plan to get his son dead that Judas fouled up?

2. According to most Xtians, my grandmother is now in heaven and has been reunited with her long dead xtian husband, who's been waiting there patiently for about 13 years. Problem is or may not be, that, at 95 years old, there are 3 other long dead xtian husbands that she survived who are also waiting there for her at the pearly gates? Is she a polygamist in heaven?

GearHedEd said...

Here's another one:

Why are the results of intecessory prayer experiments measurably equal to (or worse in some experiments) what we should expect from doing nothing at all?

And why is it that when someone survives a threatening illness such as cancer, it is always attributed to divine intervention (not the chemo and radiation and doctors!). But when they die, it's still god's will and we're just left with

"God is mysterious and powerful, and his power is only exceeded by his mystery"?

Papalinton said...

What was god's Plan B if Judas had said, "bugger off " to those who offered him the thirty pieces of silver?


B.R. said...

Her's one; why do Christians still cling to their senile Sky Father when the Old Ones are obviously superior? Don't they know that Ry'leh will soon rise from the sea, and Lord Cthulhu will awaken?

GearHedEd said...


Rocky Harper said...

I remember when Hurrican Mitch hit Guatamala and drown or killed thousands of children. And many became orphans. Can Christians explain how Jesus/God is active in guiding their life but has nothing to do with hurricanes, earthquakes, diseases' and all the suffering of millions and millions of loving innocent people? Why does God allow such misery?

LadyAtheist said...

FreddieZ I feel the same way about Pontius Pilate. He was doing God's will so he's not a villain.

Breckmin said...

"1. What could possibly compel the Perfect from inaction into action and in tandem, how can the Perfect have desires, the implication being that desires stem from imperfection. (Epicurus had a couple of things to say on the matter)"

It is good to create beings who can love. God does not create out of needy desires like a man would have. This is problematic - because you would have to BE Perfect in order to claim that a Perfect Spiritual Existence could not desire good things for such Creators children/creation.

God doesn't create out of need or loneliness or any such other nonsense. This is evasive to the right of Love to exist in the universe and the glory of love to be the greater good that trumps sin's inevitable existence (because it (sin) is a potential byproduct of choice which is necessary for love). Question everything. How can you judge perfection unless you are perfect yourself? By what standard of perfection do you appeal to - to somehow judge the Infinite Creator and Owner of the universe for creating beings in His Image Who can love?

2. Infinite punishment for finite sins. (a staple I'd guess)

Eternal punishment is multi-faceted. Sins are NOT just finite because they remain in the historical record of this temporary creation (which is dealing with the real problem of evil and how sin is a danger to a being of choice)forever. They have to be atoned for (consequences for actions by God's Perfect Justice and Order)or they would stand as a testimony against a Holy Creator who never employed justice (not going to happen). When you sin, you as a little creator (Created in God's Conscious Image) create sin in God's universe. This creates a negative debt which has to be paid for. You can't pay for it because you are an imperfect being who commited the violation. God in His Perfect Holiness can NOT fellowship with you. That is why you need Christ (Jesus) to impute moral perfection to you by forgiving you of your sins. No sin is really finite because of the ETERNAL record. In addition, you are an eternal being created in God's Image but now you can not fellowship with Him (forever) unless Perfection is imputed to you.

3. The fragmentation of the Church.

Any two people who think exactly alike on everything...one of them isn't thinking.

"The Euthyphron Dilemma is another staple worth exploring."

A false dilemma because it is neither just because of what God says NOR intrinsically separate from God. The good is consistent with God's Will and Nature by the fact that He created and owns everything except our sinful actions.

Breckmin said...

"Other than the threat of an eternal afterlife that will be experienced in either unending torment or bliss, what should compel someone to consider Christianity?"

The greatest demonstration of LOVE from God to Man. To become a Man and offer Yourself as a Sacrifice for the sins men/women have committed (evil they have created in your universe).

Breckmin said...

I would like to go through and answer all of these (even the biblical ones - even though I do not hold to strict innerrancy).

I just discovered this thread and believe ALL of these questions have answers (but it will take multiple posts to answer them).

GearHedEd said...

Save your breath.

No one is buying it.